The Association of Convenience Stores has set out a series of specific policy recommendations that Chancellor George Osborne can deliver for local shops in his Budget next month. ACS also reacted to the commitments made by banks following negotiations with Government about new funding for business lending.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Supporting local shops should be a key part of the Chancellor’s plans for delivering economic growth. Trading within the heart of communities, the local shop sector can be an engine room of recovery and create new jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurs. For this to happen the Chancellor must seek out ways to reduce the burden of costs on these businesses and free up the finance and lending they need to make necessary investment. Our recommendations are practical and would have an immediate positive impact on businesses in our sector.”

“We welcome the commitments made on Wednesday by the four major Banks to provide £76 billion more to small businesses for lending but this will only be meaningful once retailers know how to access new finance and that has yet to be made clear.

ACS has made a series of policy recommendations to the Chancellor including:

  • reduce the cost of business rates by ending the link between rate rises and RPI measures of inflation
  • end inflation busting increases in the national minimum wage
  • free up decision making within Banks (especially those that are state owned) to ensure that loan decisions can be made locally
  • clamp down on tobacco and alcohol duty fraud setting a target of 50% reduction in the trade
  • defer the planned increase in fuel duty scheduled for the April 2011

Mr Lowman continued: “ACS is closely engaged in ongoing discussion with Ministers and officials across Government about how policy reforms can encourage growth in retail. We will continue to press Ministers to act on our recommendations in the run up the budget.

“We are also warning Ministers against adopting policies that could promise of short term results but would cause long term damage, for example weakening town centre planning rules. Allowing more out of town developments would kill town centres and with them sustainable jobs and vibrant communities, and weakening planning laws would be an ineffective and damaging strategy for growth.”