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Autumn Statement 2023: Usdaw warns of the impact of increasing business rates on high streets and retail jobs

Date: 21 November 2023 Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis has today written to the Chancellor of Exchequer ahead of Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, warning of the impact on retail and jobs if he presses ahead with a widely reported rise in business rates.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Last year the Government acknowledged the specific burden of business rates on the retail sector, with a series of measures of support, specifically freezing the business rates multiplier. While this was in recognition of the economic damage caused by the energy crisis and inflationary pressures, the Government has long been aware of the cumulative burden rates have placed on the sector.
“Despite the support outlined by Government in terms of business rates, over 67,000 retail workers have lost their jobs this year with nearly 5,500 retail stores shutting up shop. While inflation has eased in recent months, the climate in retail remains challenging and an inflationary increase in the business rates multiplier and the removal of reliefs would be disastrous, resulting in further store closures and job losses.
“Usdaw recognises the needs for businesses to pay their fair share of taxation, however an inflation-linked increase to the business rates multiplier will cost retail businesses £480m. It is clear that the sector cannot afford to absorb these substantial costs and anything other than a freeze in business rates will have a ripple effect, not just on retail, but the wider economy. Specifically, an increase in business rates will severely undermine the Government's ambition to meet inflation targets, as well as its overall strategy to bring about economic growth.
“The Government has committed to prioritise Corporation Tax reliefs to promote investment. However, for many retailers, it is business rates which act as the primary drag on their ability to invest in communities, this is because rates must be paid regardless of whether a business makes a profit or a loss.
“Usdaw's full submission sets out our full list of priorities for the Autumn Statement, one of which is fundamental reform of business rates. We continue to urge the Government to take decisive action, including the introduction of an online sales tax, to create a more level playing field for businesses.
“In this Autumn statement it is essential that, as a minimum, the Government continues their business rates support in terms of prioritising a freeze in the multiplier, and an increase in the relief measures already in place.”
Usdaw’s submission to HM Treasury about the 2023 Autumn Statement included:
  • Retail recovery plan to help our high streets get back on their feet and compete effectively with online retail.
  • Cost of living crisis continues to have a severe impact on most workers who desperately need help to make ends meet.
  • New deal for workers to make work pay and end the insecure employment that leaves too many struggling with the cost of living.
  • Universal credit and social security does not provide the safety net that many need and remains a disincentive to earn more.
Full Usdaw submission: www.usdaw.org.uk/AutumnBudget2023
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 350,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades www.usdaw.org.uk
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