BRC: Spring Budget missed opportunities

CEO of the British Retail Consortium  Helen Dickinson said the UK Government could have gone further to support businesses in its Spring Budget 2023.

16 Mar, 23

CEO of the British Retail Consortium Helen Dickinson said the UK Government could have gone further to support businesses in its Spring Budget 2023.

BRC: First step towards “broken” business rate reform

She welcomed the U-turn on the ongoing energy bill support for consumers but said businesses still face regulatory burdens and inflationary pressure and Government must do more to support them.

“In the face of volatile demand caused by high inflation and low consumer confidence, measures to support households with the cost of living, such as the ongoing energy bill support and changes to childcare costs, are welcomed.

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“However, many businesses are weighed down by a myriad of higher costs right through the supply chain.

“Government must do more to limit one of the biggest drags to retail investment, which is oncoming regulatory burdens heading down the track, or risk a crash in business investment and further inflationary pressures”, Dickinson commented

Although a focus of the budget was on encouraging people back to work, Helen Dickinson said the Government missed an opportunity to broaden the scope of the Apprenticeship Levy.

“The Chancellor understands the need to train people to re-enter the workforce, yet he missed a key opportunity to fix the issues with the Apprenticeship Levy system that would support this very goal.

“Over the last three years, businesses have lost £3.5bn in unused Levy funds.

“To break this cycle of wasted investment, it is vital that Government allows businesses to use their hard-earned Levy funds for a wider array of skills courses.

“Without spending a penny, the Chancellor would increase investment in our workforce, helping businesses to prepare the UK economy for the skills it needs.”

She added further reform is also needed to business rates, to enable companies to flourish.

Dickinson concluded: “While the Autumn Budget brought in some welcome changes to the business rates system, further reform is needed.

“The broken Business Rates system remains a drag on business investment, jobs, and economic growth.

“Rates must be paid in full whether firms are making a profit or a loss. This makes Business Rates the final nail in the coffin for many struggling stores; shutting shops, costing jobs and preventing new stores openings.

“The Chancellor should make good on the Conservative 2019 pledge to reform Rates and lay out a clear roadmap for future reforms.”