The PRA and Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) have both highlighted retailers’ concerns in submissions to the Chancellor, ahead of his Budget on July 8.
PRA chairman Brian Madderson called for a 2ppl cut in fuel duty, suggesting that income from increased road fuel volumes would help to pay for the measure.
He also appealed to the Chancellor to support measures which would enable forecourt retailers to harness the benefits of duty deferment.
On business rates Madderson called for the repeal of policy regarding rates demands on cash machines, and for a reconsideration of the methodology for determining business rates for forecourts compared with convenience stores.
Madderson also urged the Chancellor to continue to abstain from the proposed introduction of E10 grade unleaded petrol on the grounds that the market was not ready to embrace it.
The PRA and ACS both made representations about the level of the trade in illicit tobacco, with ACS also highlighting the problem of smuggled alcohol.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “There is a strong correlation between the increase in duty rates for alcohol and tobacco and the purchase of non duty paid products. Government should freeze the current duty rates and make tackling fraud a top priority of their alcohol strategy. Retailers who engage in duty fraud should lose their licence.”
In its submission ACS also called for government to ensure that the Low Pay Commission remains an independent body and is not influenced by central government targets.
Lowman said: “We believe that minimum wage recommendations should be made by an independent Low Pay Commission. Recent moves by government to ensure that staff working 30 hours a week on minimum wage pay no income tax are a welcome step, as they benefit workers while not burdening retailers. Setting targets for the minimum wage would create a dangerous precedent that leads to staff hours being cut and retailers having to delay investment elsewhere in their business.”
ACS also reiterated its call for long-term business rates reform. Lowman said: “Government has taken action in recent years to reduce the burden of business rates on our members but this must be followed by wholesale reform that makes the business rates system fairer. We will be publishing our response to the government’s consultation on rates in the near future, outlining the measures that should be taken to level the playing field for local shops and other small businesses.”