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Usdaw shocked that the Chancellor makes no mention of retail when the industry desperately needs a recovery plan

Date: 08 July 2020 Retail trade union Usdaw called on the Chancellor to announce in today’s economic statement an urgent recovery plan for the struggling retail industry. The union is shocked that no mention was made of the tens of thousands of retail jobs already lost or the difficulties the high street is facing, let alone any suggestion of a recovery plan.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We listened carefully to the Chancellor’s statement today and we are truly shocked that he made no mention of the huge challenges the retail industry faces. We recognise the value of a VAT cut for the hospitality sectors, which should have been extended to retail.

“The Government’s response to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus emergency on the retail industry, in the form of small business grants, business rates relief and VAT deferral, has helped take some pressure off. However, these interim measures will not sustain the industry for long. We needed to hear today that the Government will adopt an urgent retail recovery plan.

“What the retail sector needs now is a tripartite approach of the Government, unions and employers to develop a much needed retail recovery plan. We have long called for an industrial strategy for retail to help a sector that was already struggling before the Coronavirus emergency. Now the situation is much worse.

“The Government has a clear choice. Do they want to see the high street go to the wall, or do they want to help save it? Retail is an important feature of our towns and cities, it employs three million people and we need a stimulus package to save the industry.”

Usdaw called for a recovery plan to be developed with trade unions and retail employers and include:
  • Fundamental reform of business rates. The Government committed to a review of business rates earlier this year, but assurance is needed that this will not be delayed further. 
  • An immediate and comprehensive review of rental values and lease arrangements. In the short term measures are needed to prevent commercial landlords taking legal action for rental defaults during the lockdown period. In the medium term, a rebalancing of the relationship between landlords and tenants is required. 
  • Reform of UK tax law to ensure that companies pay their fair share of tax through tackling tax avoidance and the use of offshore havens, with the aim of creating a level playing field between online and high street retailers. 
  • Funding for local authorities so they can invest in their local economy, transport networks and high streets. We cannot revive our high streets if core services continue to be undermined 
  • Investment in skills for retail workers, including through union learning and high-quality apprenticeships. This should include an in-depth assessment of emerging trends and potential skills shortages/gaps within the sector.
  • A new deal for retail, distribution and home delivery workers based around a real living wage and guaranteed hours.
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers