Retail trade union Usdaw has reacted with disappointment at the small measures proposed by the Government in the face of a long-running crisis in the retail industry. The union, along with many major retailers had called for fundamental reform of business rates funded by an online sales tax.

Last week Usdaw joined forces with major retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Co-op and retail representative bodies, creating a new temporary coalition, the ‘Retail Jobs Alliance’. Together they wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer calling on him to cut the ‘Shops Tax’: www.usdaw.org.uk/rjaletter

Today the Government has promised a so-called Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which in their words will allow “local authorities to bring empty premises back into use and instigate rental auctions of vacant commercial properties in town centres and on high streets”.

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “The Government clearly knows that there is a crisis on our high streets and in the wider retail industry, but they have yet again failed to take the substantial action needed to save our shops. Usdaw is clear that the Government needs to focus on the fundamental concerns being raised by the sector.

“When retail employers and the shopworkers’ trade union combine in a call for action, it’s time for the Government to listen. Usdaw continues to campaign for the Government to introduce a retail recovery plan, with a fundamental reform of business rates being one of our key demands.

“The current system is not fit for purpose, placing bricks and mortar retailers at a significant disadvantage to online retail and action has to be taken to level the playing field. In effect this amounts to nothing more than an unfair ‘Shops Tax’.

“Cutting the ‘Shops Tax’ will help protect shops from closure, encourage growth in high street retail, reinvigorate our struggling town and city centres, allow retailers to innovate and importantly protect and create jobs. That is the best way to tackle the problem of empty shop units.”

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