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Budget doesn't address long-term problems of the retail crisis and working family poverty says Usdaw

Date: 11 March 2020 Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has expressed disappointment that today’s Budget shies away from tackling the long-term and on-going problems of the retail crisis and the increasing number of children in working families living in poverty.
Usdaw had called on the Chancellor to use his first budget to:
  • Level the playing field between online retailers and shops by delivering fundamental reform to the business rates system.
  • On Universal Credit, scrap the two-child limit and the five-week wait period.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “The Chancellor has today announced some limited measures on the retail crisis and Universal Credit, linked to the Coronavirus emergency. While we completely understand why Coronavirus would dominate the Budget, we don’t believe that should be at the expense of resolving some long-term and on-going issues that impact working people and communities across the UK.
 
“With 57,000 job losses across the sector last year, the Government needed to use today’s Budget to tackle the issues behind the retail sector crisis. According to figures from the BRC, the retail sector makes up 5% of the economy yet pays 10% of all business taxes and 25% of all business rates.
 
“Today’s temporary business rates measures will be welcomed by small businesses, but they do nothing to provide a viable trading environment for the struggling large retailers who are closing stores, making staff redundant, going into administration and facing the prospect of going bust. Yet again the Government has failed to understand that thriving high streets and shopping centres need a good mix of large and small retailers. When the larger multiple retailers fail, footfall declines and the smaller independent retailers struggle.
 
“Usdaw’s ‘Save our Shops’ campaign provides a fully researched and comprehensive industrial strategy for retail. It is supported by retail employers and experts and we need the Government to fully engage in tackling the retail crisis. A formal review of business rates has been announced for the autumn. Usdaw is calling on the Government to engage with all stakeholders in this review and use the opportunity to deliver fundamental change and level the playing field between online retailers and shops.
 
“Usdaw also called on the Chancellor to finally scrap both the two-child limit and the five-week wait period, both of which are long overdue. These measures were jointly called for by academics, MPs, unions, and charities in a letter to the Government organised by the Making Ends Meet campaign.
 
“The Universal Credit system has been plagued with issues and continues to be a failing project. Over the past three years, well over half a million children have been affected by the two-child limit, driving hundreds of thousands of families into poverty. The five-week wait period is not only unnecessary but is sending people into debt from which they struggle to recover.
 
“The temporary removal of the Universal Credit income floor provides some assistance for the lowest paid who are self-isolating or recovering having contracted Covid-19. However, working families are desperate for large-scale reforms to Universal Credit, the system is fundamentally flawed and the roll-out has yet again been delayed.
 
“Today’s Budget was a missed opportunity that focussed on the short-term fixes on the key issues of the retail crisis and the increasing number of children in working families living in poverty.”
 
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