The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed the proposed introduction of a new Sentencing Bill in the Queen’s Speech and action to cut business rates for local shops.

On tackling violence, ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The introduction of new sentencing laws to deal with violent offenders will be welcomed, but there is still much more to be done to ensure that offenders are dealt with before they can commit violent crimes against retailers and their colleagues. We need targeted intervention to stop repeat offenders of so called ‘low level’ crimes so that they don’t feel emboldened to commit more serious and violent crime, and this must start with the scrapping of ineffective fixed penalty notices.”

In the last year there were 10,000 incidences of violence against people working in convenience stores and 83% of colleagues experienced verbal abuse.

On business rates, ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Local shops, especially those trading on high streets and in urban areas, will welcome these commitments to provide more help with the burden of business rates, but they also want national policies including help to cope with rising employment costs, a business rates system that promotes investment, and support for providing essential services in their communities."

Figures from ACS’ 2019 Local Shop Report show that the convenience sector currently pays around £308m in business rates. An increase in the discount for convenience stores with rateable value of under £51,000 could save the convenience sector over £30m next year.

The Queen’s Speech sets out the Government’s priorities for the coming parliamentary session. Measures announced in this Queen’s Speech include:

• A new Sentencing Bill to impose tougher sentences on the most serious and violent offenders

• Introducing charges for specified single use plastic items in addition to a deposit return scheme

• An intention to increase the National Living Wage to two thirds of median hourly earnings and lower the age threshold for those who qualify from 25 to 21 within the next five years

• Employment reform in line with commitments set out in the Good Work plan

• Increasing the retail discount from one-third to 50 per cent and conducting a fundamental review of business rates