Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed today’s select committee report that urges the Government to immediately conduct a full ‘lessons learned’ review on the impact on high streets of central and local government handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The cross-party House of Commons Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee report published today includes recommendations which:

  1. call for the full “lessons learned” review on the high streets to be conducted immediately, ahead of the main independent Covid-19 inquiry
  2. support the principle of an online sales tax
  3. call for the Government to move away from competitive bidding processes for town regeneration schemes and shift to greater local devolution of funding.

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We very much welcome this significant intervention by MPs from across the House of Commons, which largely backs the retail recovery plan that Usdaw has called for throughout the pandemic. You only have to walk down any high street to see how the retail sector has been impacted by the pandemic, which heightened the difficulties retail already faced.

“We urgently need to level the playing field between online and bricks-and-mortar retail, something Usdaw and many major retailers have called on the Government to do and is now backed by the select committee. A 1% online sales levy could raise around £1.5 billion and fund a 20% cut in the current outdated and imbalanced commercial property tax.

“Through the Retail Sector Council, we are looking for the Government to take forward this report with unions and businesses and develop an urgent recovery plan for retail, looking at the wider pressures facing the sector such as business rates, rents and lease arrangements. This plan should also include continued support for local authorities to help them revitalise their local high street, making them hubs for our communities.

“A retail recovery plan must also recognise the contribution of the people who work in the industry. For too long retail has been a byword for low pay and insecure jobs. If we want retail to prosper, we need to make sure that retail jobs are good jobs. We hope the Government is listening.”

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