Campaigns

Independent retailers operate in a world where trade issues and legislation can and do have an enormous impact on businesses and livelihoods. Through our public affairs work we enable members to engage politically on the issues that matter to them and provide the tools to get elected political representatives to become effective advocates during policy making.

If you need any help in contacting your MP or political representatives, or have any questions relating to the political aspects of any campaign, please do not hesitate to contact the public affairs team at publicaffairs@nfrn.org.uk

 

NFRN calls on CMA to examine the news supply chain

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Senior officials from the NFRN, led by National President Linda Sood, have called on the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate newspaper and magazine distribution in the UK.

Together with NFRN Deputy Vice President Stuart Reddish, the chairman of the Federation’s news operations committee John Parkinson and members of the  National Executive Committee, Mrs Sood delivered an explosive 32 page document to the CMA’s offices in London’s Southampton Row on Wednesday April 11 that explains why a market investigation into the news supply chain must go ahead.

Within the document the NFRN explains how developments within the marketplace since the last OFT investigation in 2012 have caused substantial damage to independent retailers and their customers.

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NFRN launches Independent Retail Report

The NFRN has launched its Independent Retail Report 2018 at a parliamentary reception in the House of Commons. Read more

Scottish Independent Retail Report launched

During a parliamentary reception at the Scottish Parliament on 24 April 2018, the NFRN launched its 2018 Independent Retail Report for Scotland. Read more

Review of our 2017 Receptions

The NFRN launched its Independent Retail Report 2017 at a parliamentary reception in the House of Commons on  21 February 2017.

On 4 April 2017 the NFRN launched its Independent Retail Report for Wales 2017 during a reception at the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff.

Current Campaigns

Find out the latest ways that the NFRN is developing its profile and building recognition of the needs of independent retailers in all parliaments and assemblies. More importantly, see how you can help!

Retail Crime
Retail Crime victim and NFRN member Niru Patel in hospital after attack

On Christmas Eve 2015, Mrs Patel (pictured) was attacked in her store in Luton and sustained life threatening injuries. Six years prior, Mrs Patel’s husband, Jashbhai was murdered outside their store.

Retail crime encompasses a wide range of offences that are committed against either retail businesses or premises or the business owner or staff. Over the past few years, our members have voiced their growing concerns with the level of retail crime affecting their business and their way of life.

Shop Theft

Shop theft is the most common and widespread type of crime in the retail sector, with 377,172 incidents for the year ending June 2017 – up 11 per cent from the previous year and three times higher than in 2007-08 (1). The 2016 BRC Crime Survey revealed a record high in terms of the cost to retailers, with retailers losing £438 million in 2015 (2) Overall, the cost of theft has increased by more than 100 per cent in the last few years. In 2012, the medium value of items stolen was £237, compared with a median value of £500 today (3) This cost is escalating year-on-year, with a 60 per cent increase on the previous year (4) Retailers across the UK report that one of the biggest threats to their business is customer theft. As a result, retailers continue to invest heavily in loss prevention measures, including CCTV, mirrors, panic alarms, shutters, and high-value items secured behind counters and overhead gantries. However, micro-businesses do not have the financial capability to invest the same as large national chains, who have a physical security presence.

For these reasons, it is important that small independent retailers can trust their police to respond promptly and reliably. Yet, a majority of businesses (56 per cent) say that they believe the police operate ‘poorly’ or ‘very poorly’ when dealing with retail crime (5). Businesses require better police collaboration for the investigation of crimes that cross police force borders.

Retailers are reporting more organised levels of criminal activity, which can often fall into gaps between police borders. Although regional police response units have been created, the NFRN is concerned about the capability of law enforcement to respond to offenders who operate beyond this. There is a significant under-reporting of crime, in particular, shop theft, which the NFRN recognises. The Home Office’s “Crimes Against Businesses – Victimisation Survey” revealed in early 2017 that on average only 36 per cent of shop theft by an unknown person is reported to the police (6).

Reductions in resources available to police forces are undoubtedly posing challenges, and more broadly the lack of consistency in responses to retail crime across the country is considered a major obstacle to fostering trust and building confidence.

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Speaking to NFRN North West district members in November 2017, Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Clive Grunshaw admitted that more action was needed to tackle retail crime. He also urged members to report all incidents of shop theft, no matter the value of the product taken.

Yet, around the same time, the Metropolitan Police announced its new Crime Assessment Policy, featuring guidelines designed to help police officers decide whether to investigate a lower level crime.7 There does not appear to be a precise definition of ‘lower level crime’, but comments by high-ranking police personnel indicate that they refer to instances of shoplifting, car crimes, some minor assaults and burglary, criminal damages, and thefts.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons, for example, argues that “with the pressure on our resources it is not practical for our officers to spend a considerable amount of time looking into something where for example, the value of damage or the item stolen is under £50” (8).

Similarly, Paddy Tipping, the elected PCC in Nottinghamshire, stated recently: “We will do our best with the resources we have got. Is shoplifting as important as investigating a serious sexual assault? It is not. […] So there are jobs that we do at the moment that will have to take a lower priority. If people report shoplifting will the police come? Probably not.” (9)

These statements come despite 8,786 shoplifting instances being reported in the period from June 2016 to June 2017 in Nottinghamshire alone (10)

As John Barlow, a newsagent in Nottingham, rightly pointed out, “the police are basically telling thieves, ‘Help yourselves.’ Of course, there are more serious crimes police need to solve but you can’t just give thieves a licence to steal.” (11)

We believe no crime is too small and we cannot simply ignore crime because of cost. The NFRN is urging all PCCs to send a clear message to their police forces that shop theft cannot be downgraded.

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The NFRN calls for: The government to ensure that local police forces have statistics that can transparently show them the cost of shoplifting to businesses and the local area, in order that the PCC can make transparent decisions about how the police forces distribute resources in their bid to reduce crime.

 

Violence and Abuse

Retail staff continue to suffer an unprecedented level of violence and abuse in their workplace, which for a large proportion of NFRN members, is also their home. The interim results of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) “Freedom From Fear” survey show that over the past year, almost two-thirds of shop workers were verbally abused, 40 per cent were threatened and approximately 250 retail staff were victims of violent assaults every single day. These are worrying numbers, in particular in comparison to last year’s survey, with abuse and assaults up by 25 per cent and threats by 38 per cent (12).

In an industry of three million workers, the retail sector needs to have the confidence that they will be protected in their place of work. It is the smaller retailers that are on the frontline and see more violent behaviour and are prone to be assaulted by customers; therefore, smaller retailers need extra protection and depend on faster response times from the police. Almost a third of incidents go unreported due to the lack of confidence in the police to take the incident seriously and for the crime to be dealt with. Many instances of violence arise when shop workers request proof of I.D on age-restricted products, such as alcohol, tobacco and lottery products. NFRN members pride themselves on being responsible retailers and operate age restricted schemes such as “Challenge 21” and “Challenge 25” as well as carrying out a “No I.D, No Sale” policy. However, this can often be the main cause of violence and abuse from customers.

A 2017 survey commissioned by Under Age Sales, the USDAW shop workers’ union and the NFRN revealed that approximately 6,000 store workers encounter verbal or physical abuse on a daily basis due to asking customers for their I.D when purchasing age-restricted products. Of those surveyed, a shocking 80 per cent reported that they had faced verbal abuse and 24 per cent have been physically attacked after asking young people to produce their I.D. Abuse rates are particularly high for Asian or British-Asian staff, with 23 per cent physically threatened and 33 per cent verbally abused after asking for I.D – compared with only 7 per cent of White British workers. On a daily basis, this amounts to approximately 250 racially motivated attacks in retail stores.

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Worryingly, of the retailers reporting instances of verbal and physical abuse to the police, a staggering 57 per cent did either not receive a response at all or were dissatisfied with the action taken by the police.

A third of retail workers have admitted that these attacks have reduced their confidence in asking for ID, fearing verbal and physical retaliation simply for wanting to ensure that minors do not come into contact with age-restricted products.(13)

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The NFRN calls for: The government to revisit its stance on the leniency of some of the sentences for assault of workers, as well as the fact that many other offenders are not even charged. We implore the government to do more to help protect shop workers in their place of work, in particular by introducing a specific offence for assaulting a shop worker when asking a customer for I.D.

 

1 ONS. (2017). Crime in England and Wales: Year Ending June 2017. ONS, pp. 1-60: 29.
2 British Retail Consortium. (2017). 2016 Crime Survey. British Retail Consortium, pp. 1-17: 6.
3 Home Office, 2017, op cit: 9.
4 Ibid.
5 British Retail Consortium, 2017, op cit: 10.
6 Ibid: 16.
7 BBC. (2017). ‘Not Practical’ for Met Police to Investigate All Crime. BBC. (16th of October).
8 Metropolitan Police. (2017). DAC Mark Simmons Discusses the Crime Assessment Policy. Metropolitan Police. (16th of October).
9 Simpson, J. (2017). Police Will Not Attend Shoplifting Incidents. The Times. (1st of December).
10 Ibid.
11 Ibid.
12 USDAW. About Freedom From Fear. USDAW.
13 Allen, T. and Rudkin, E. (2017). An Analysis of Abuse and Violence Towards Retail Staff when Challenging Customers for ID. Under Age Sales, pp.1-32: 1-32.

Deposit Return Scheme (Scotland)

In September 2017, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that Scotland would introduce a deposit return system (DRS) for used drinks cans and bottles. A one-way DRS usually involves an initial deposit added to the purchase price of a drink, which is then refunded when the container is returned to a collection point. If consumers decide not to return the used container, they will lose the deposit. The specific design for Scotland has yet to be finalised but is aimed at reducing the high number of litter ending up in the Scottish countryside and sea.

Independent retailers have long called for a deposit refund scheme for plastic bottles and cans in Scotland and agreed to a proactive policy of engagement with like-minded stakeholders in a bid to increase recycling levels within Scotland. Speaking at the NFRN’s Scottish Conference in March 2017, Gail Winfield, then its president, said: “NFRN members are responsible retailers who want to play a role in protecting the environment and who recognise the damage that plastic bottles and cans can do to their surroundings. It’s for that reason we have agreed today to support the Scottish government’s aim of increasing the rate of recycling but we want to ensure that any schemes to achieve this are developed in co-operation with the independent retail sector.”

Research suggests that a deposit return scheme could cut litter by 18 million cans and 21 million bottles in Scotland. With such compelling evidence, the NFRN wants to pro-actively engage with like-minded stakeholders in discussion and debates, leading to an industry solution that will benefit, not hinder, independent retailers.

In developing a DRS in Scotland it is important that the challenges and opportunities that such a scheme would present to the independent retail sector are considered and addressed. That way, a scheme that works for the customer and for retailers of all sizes can be introduced.

The building of a resilient infrastructure is the key to DRS being a success for independent retailers. To achieve this a number of issues will need to be addressed. These include:

  • A strong infrastructure that can be relied on to collect the returns on a daily basis.
  • An administrative system that does not impose a heavy burden on retailers but does pay them the refunded deposit and handling fee quickly, accurately and efficiently.
  • The possibility of exemption or opt-outs for small shops and kiosks.
  • Support from the manufacturers by investing in the success of the project, both with the development of the infrastructure but also helping independent retailers by providing capital to obtain reverse vending machine for use in independent retail stores.

The NFRN is keen to continue working with the government to ensure that the scheme will reflect the specific needs of the independent retail sector. Consideration must be given to the nature of members’ stores and the need to avoid excessive red tape, to the need for manufacturers to invest in the success of the scheme, ensuring that the infrastructure can be put In place that benefits independent retailers.

The NFRN calls for: Proactive engagement with like-minded stakeholders and the Scottish government to devise an industry solution that works for everyone.

National Living Wage & Auto-enrolment

Whilst the NFRN is sympathetic to calls to increase the National Living Wage, our members cannot easily absorb these and they hinder their business growth.

The impact that the National Living Wage has on micro-businesses has not been anticipated by the government. It is important that the government and the Low Pay Commission consider the financial burden this places on independent retailers and provide support.

In a five year period, the wage level of those over the age of 25 has increased by 21 per cent from £6.19 to £7.50 in 2017, with a planned increase to £7.83 in April 2018. The increase will see an annual pay rise of £600 for full- time workers who do a 37.5-hour week.

Despite planning well in advance, many retailers still find it difficult to accommodate continuing increases. Additionally, this April’s increase coincides with other challenging and costly policies affecting independent retailers. One such policy is the rollout of workplace pension auto-enrolment. Many independent retailers had to outsource auto-enrolment and payroll, adding to the already high cost resulting from minimum employer contributions. It is also worth noting that there will be further increases to the minimum contribution required by employers – rising from 1 per cent to 2 per cent in April 2018 and to 3 per cent in 2019. As such, increases in employer minimum contribution for AE and the NLW increases will both take effect at the same time. Apart from increasing costs arising from government policy, there are also wider economic pressures affecting retailers’ businesses, including the spike in inflation and slumping consumer spending.

A 2017 report for the Low Pay Commission, prepared by Incomes Data Research, highlighted the worrying responses of employers to increases of the NLW. The report’s findings were based on a survey of 120 employers, across all low-paying sectors. More than half of respondents (55 per cent) stated that they had increased the prices of their products over the past year, with 67 per cent of respondents linking this directly to the NLW. Headcount reductions also featured very prominently across the retail sector, with 36 per cent of respondents citing NLW as a major factor, and 37 per cent of respondents naming it as one factor in workforce cuts.

These findings have been confirmed by research carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). A staggering 64 per cent of small businesses affected by the NLW have stretched to meet the new increases by taking lower profits. Reportedly, two in five small businesses (39 per cent) have increased their prices to cope with rising employment bills. A further quarter (24 per cent) needed to cancel or downsize their investment plans, and a fifth have reduced staff hours (22 per cent) or employed fewer workers (19 per cent).

In 2015, the Office for Budget Responsibility warned that there would be a loss of 60,000 jobs as a direct result of the introduction of the National Living Wage as well as working hours reduced by four million per week. The new increases of the National Living Wage will only accelerate this process.

The NFRN calls for: The government to review the impact that the Living Wage and auto-enrolment have on small and micro businesses and to assess the level of increases scheduled.

Illicit Trade - Suspect it? Report it!

The illicit trade market, in particular tobacco and alcohol is a costly burden not only to legitimate retailers but also to the Treasury, with a loss of more than £3.6bn each year in lost revenue. The NFRN has campaigned against any measures which may increase the volume of illicit trade, such as plain packaging. In addition, the NFRN has called for the Government, Trading Standards, Police and HMRC to do more to combat illicit trade. Counterfeit tobacco and alcohol are a particular concern to independent retailers as the proliferation of such products results in a substantial loss of sales for legitimate retailers as well as having serious health risks to consumers.

NFRN and Imperial Tobacco team up to fight illicit tobacco

Suspect It, Report It banner

The NFRN, one of Europe’s largest employers’ associations representing over 15,000 UK retailers, and leading UK FMCG manufacturer Imperial Tobacco are delighted to announce they have teamed up to help educate independent retailers and UK smokers about the growing trade in illegal tobacco.

50,000 anti-illicit trade (AIT) packs branded with Imperial’s award-winning Suspect it? Report it! campaign were distributed to retailers throughout the UK during January 2017. Each pack contains a range of in-store activation materials, including infographics, posters and stickers. These resources have been specifically created to raise awareness among retailers, their staff and adult smoker customers in understanding the multitude of threats to government, retail industry and society posed by the illicit tobacco trade.

Peter Nelson, AIT Manager, Imperial Tobacco comments: “Latest reports* suggest around 1 in 6 factory made cigarettes and 2 in 5 hand-rolled cigarettes smoked in the UK are of an illicit nature, which is among the highest in the EU. This illegal product can often be unregulated; it also threatens retailers’ livelihoods, brings criminal elements into local communities and deprives the Government of billions of pounds in much-needed tax revenue each year.

“With the full transition to standardised – or ‘plain’ – packaging on 20 May fast approaching, it is likely that tobacco manufacturers, enforcement bodies and retailers alike will have to contend with a increased threat from the illicit trade in the near future, so the release of these Suspect it? Report it! information packs comes at a particularly crucial time.

“We strongly believe that collaboration between government, industry and law enforcement is the only way to achieve long-term success, with all partners working together in a focused manner to achieve the Government’s objectives of not only reducing the illegal trade, but also helping restrict youth access to prohibited products.”

Paul Baxter, Chief Executive, NFRN adds: “The growing trade in illicit tobacco products is doing irreparable damage to both the independent retail sector and the communities that they serve.

“Independent retailers operate policies such as ‘Challenge 25’ and verify the age of their customers before selling them tobacco products but those behind the illicit trade make no such checks, happily selling their products to young people. But that’s not our only concern. The health and safety of people who smoke counterfeit cigarettes is seriously at risk from the highly unpleasant ingredients they can contain.

“This important campaign shows that independent retailers, manufacturers and the public can work together to fight against the criminal gangs who damage local businesses and communities by their continued trade in illicit tobacco products.

“By working with Imperial we aim to raise the profile of all the dangers associated with illicit tobacco, discourage the public from buying their products from illicit sources and encourage them to report suspicious activity to the police or trading standards. We will also be urging our members to get fully behind this scheme and to display the point of sale material prominently within their stores.”

If you would like to read more about the illicit trade, please visit the Suspect it? Report it! website at www.suspect-it-report-it.co.uk, or follow the campaign on Twitter at @suspect_report. NFRN members can obtain help and advice from NFRN Connect on 0800 121 6376, or from the NFRN website here

In the meantime, if you have any suspicions around the sale of illegal tobacco where you live, report it! Please act by contacting either the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000, NFRN Connect or your local Trading Standards/Police. Retailers can also contact their designated Imperial Tobacco sales representative.

Reminder to NFRN members – don’t forget to look out for your trade pack in your tote boxes. 

Payzone Contracts

On 27 July 2017, the NFRN expressed concern at new contracts being imposed by Payzone.

The changes, which represent a fundamental change from existing arrangements, were being forced through with a minimum time for retailers to consider the detail of the new contract.

Visit our Payzone Contracts Update page for the very latest.

 

Support for independent retailers and the High Street

Independent retailers are at the heart of the local community by offering a vital service through convenience retailing, payment services, news, and even postal services; which is why one of NFRN’s campaigns is to save the High Street and to protect the retail sector, by ensuring the cost of running your business does not overtake profit margins.

Town and country planning is a crucial tool of growth, as well as destruction of a business. Town centres must make measures for reliable and affordable parking near shops to encourage sustainable footfall and to keep the High Street alive.

Over regulation and an increase in operational costs, such as licences, and energy costs, are a huge factor in the reasons why retailers close their businesses for good.

Past Campaigns

The NFRN works hard on behalf of its members, building relationships with industry partners and key ministers and parliamentarians to ensure that the concerns of independent retailers are at the forefront of discussions.

Carrier Bag Levy

The carrier bag levy in England came into force in October 2015, following similar initiatives in Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland where plastic bag usage has dropped significantly as a result.

The NFRN has always supported a carrier bag charge with the aim of reducing waste and protecting the environment. Unlike Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the levy was only applicable for large stores in England. Despite extensive lobbying efforts by the NFRN, including conversations with the coalition Government’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and the then Minister for Water, Forestry, Rural Affairs and Resource Management, Dan Rogerson, smaller shops in England are excluded from making a charge for single use carrier bags.

The NFRN maintained that this is unnecessary, would confuse customers and lessen the impact on the environment that an all inclusive levy would have had. In December 2015, the NFRN submitted a ‘voluntary code of conduct’ for smaller shops to charge for single use carrier bags, this was submitted to then DEFRA Minister, Rory Stewart.

NFRN welcomes extension of carrier bag charge to smaller shops

On 10 January 2018 the government announced plans to extend the 5p plastic bag charge to smaller shops in England, with its National President Linda Sood saying this shows that government has listened to independent retailers’ concerns.

Since the charge was first imposed in England in October 2015 the NFRN has campaigned against the exemption, saying it would confuse customers and lessen the impact on the environment that an all inclusive levy would have had.

Mrs Sood said: “Our members have always been baffled by the fact that they were excluded from the requirements in England, although their retail colleagues in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been able to charge. Because of their desire to be environmentally friendly and to help support local charities, many of them have chosen to implement the charge, with the proceeds donated to local good causes.

“Over the past few years we have lobbied government ministers, including then deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, then minister for water, forestry, rural affairs and resource management, Dan Rogerson, former environment minister Rory Stewart and, more recently, Thérèse Coffey, asking them to think again. Most have been supportive and have backed a voluntary code we drafted to help retailers make clear to their customers when they are being charged, and where the proceeds are being donated.”

Mrs Sood continued: “There is no denying the fact that the 5p charge has made a huge difference to plastic bag usage, with nine billion fewer bags used and more than £66 million given by supermarkets to good causes. But the NFRN has consistently argued that while this is impressive, these figures could have been so much higher had independent retailers been included from the start.

“However, we are delighted that the government has listened to our calls and that Theresa May is set to announce that the legislation is to be extended to stores of all sizes. We look forward to playing an active part in the consultation process and working with government to ensure a smooth transition, although we will continue to press for reduced reporting requirements for businesses with fewer than 10 employees.

“Extending the levy is good news as it will bring an end to customer confusion while helping NFRN members cut costs, play their part in reducing waste and raising money for local worthy charities.”

Camelot Free Retailer Hotline

The NFRN has welcomed the news that Camelot is reinstating a free retail hotline for retailers to use for day to day help and advice from 5 June 2017.

The new free Retailer Hotline number from June 5 is 0800 8 40 50 60

In autumn 2015 the national lottery operator enraged NFRN members by transferring its previously free retail hotline to an expensive 0844 number. No formal notice was given about the move before the new telephone number took effect from Friday October 8.

The NFRN raised members’ concerns directly with Camelot warning that the move would mean retailers would be paying more to use the hotline than they would earn in commission from selling lottery tickets and scratch cards. It described the move as “unwarranted and unfair”.

On 2 June 2017 Camelot announced the launch of its “AllStars” support package for independent retailers, which along with the reinstatement of the free retail hotline number includes a £4 million plus investment in new and extra pos materials and signage and increased contact from its team for expert advice and support.

 

Sugar Tax

Giant canthetax poster submitted to the Chancellor

The NFRN has joined forces with a host of industry associations representing more than 400,000 people across several sectors to fight against the Government’s proposed sugar tax.

The ‘Face the Facts, Can the Tax’ campaign is supported by a coalition of British businesses who have come together to highlight the damaging economic consequences of the tax and urge the Government to rethink the policy and focus instead on proven solutions that will address obesity.

The group includes soft drinks manufacturers, wholesalers, small shops, newsagents, restaurants, bars, and pubs. They are warning the tax will do nothing to tackle obesity, and risks causing thousands of job losses and higher prices for those who can least afford it.

“Education not legislation on sugar ” says NFRN

13 October 2016

The NFRN has reiterated its calls for education rather than regulation in its response to the government’s consultation on the proposed sugar tax.

In its submission, the NFRN has warned that instead of reducing instances of obesity, a tax on sugary soft drinks will only hit hard working independent retailers who are already reeling from higher costs arising from the newly launched National Living Wage, business rates and from complying with the tobacco display ban.

Chief Executive Paul Baxter said: “It has been calculated that the cost on individual independent retailers will be in the region of £8,100 each per year in lost sales as manufacturers pass on their increased costs.  This is a cost that independent retailers cannot absorb and will have to pass onto consumers….hitting the poorest hardest.”

Mr Baxter also warned that sales and revenue losses could ultimately lead to job losses and even shop closures.

The NFRN reminded the government that in Mexico a soft drinks tax only reduced the daily sugar intake by six calories per person.

“There is no evidence to suggest that the UK experience will be any different,” Mr Baxter warned.

Instead, the NFRN said that consumers needed to be better educated into the effects of sugar and the alternatives available.

“Education must cover all aspects of the sugary food and drinks sector, not just soft drinks,” Mr Baxter concluded.

NFRN’s Day of Action against the sugar tax 

Customers holding up canthetax postcards

27 September 2016

Nearly 2,000 independent retailers got behind the NFRN’s call for the government to rethink its plans for a sugar tax on sugary drinks.

Since the NFRN’s Day of Action against the proposed sugar tax on Friday September 16, almost 1,500 store owners have filled out a postcard to Chancellor Philip Hammond registering their objection to the proposal and saying no to the tax.

A further 459 have written to their MP, warning that the move will devastate their businesses while failing to tackle the UK’s obesity problems.

Posters stating that a potential 58p price increase on a two litre bottle of a sugary soft drink will cause shop closures and job losses have also gone up in thousands of stores nationwide.

NFRN Chief Executive Paul Baxter said: “While we understand that the government has got to get to grips with rising obesity levels, we believe the proposal for a sugar tax is flawed. That’s why thousands of independent retailers are joining our call for Chancellor Philip Hammond to reconsider and come up with a solution that will not threaten the survival of local independent shops.”

#canthetax

Twitter is a great way to get your voice heard, so make sure you follow the campaign on the NFRN Twitter page and by using the hashtag #canthetax. New to Twitter? Check out our Twitter Beginner’s Guide for all the basics.

Please help us get the government to face the facts and rethink its approach to tackling obesity.

Campaign Page

For more information about the NFRN’s campaign against the sugar tax, visit nfrnonline.com/sugartax

#PayPointPayFair Campaign

In May 2015, PayPoint informed retailers that it was reducing the cap that applies to transaction commissions. The NFRN responded by referring this matter to its lawyers and are considering making a formal complaint about PayPoint to the Payment System Regulator (PRS) in an attempt to seek a full market investigation into the Over-the-Counter Payment and Collection Services market. A letter to energy regular, OFGEM, has also been posted and warns of the invidious situation that PayPoint retailers now find themselves in and calls for an immediate investigation.

The NFRN escalated its dispute against payment service provider, PayPoint, by urging its 9,000 members who operate terminals with them to write to their MPs asking them to raise concerns in Parliament about PayPoints decision to reduce the cap on retailer’s commissions. Independent retailers play a vital role in ensuring consumers have access to over the counter payment and collection services but it is inconceivable that they are expected to operate at a loss.

In letters to MPs, many retailers are considering removing terminals from their stores, denying vulnerable and elderly customers the opportunity to pay bills, top up keys for their electricity or gas metres or pick up their benefits.

Sunday Trading

Whether it was through the NFRN’s Parliamentary Receptions, responses to Government Consultations, our Budget 2016 submission or through members actively engaging with their MPs in their shops or at their surgeries; plans to relax Sunday trading hours was defeated in the House of Commons and recorded the first defeat to the Conservative Government, after 317 MPs voted against the proposal to allow councils to extend opening hours on Sundays through the Enterprise Bill.

However, this is still contested and is being monitored by NFRN Public Affairs and will always stand up for the independent retailer and make sure their voices are heard in Westminster and in the devolved Assemblies.

Business Rates

Independent retailers have faced a tough business climate during the financial uncertainty over the past few years. Given their relatively small size, our members are particularly affected by any changes to their trading conditions.

After extensive campaigns through Parliamentary receptions, meeting with Ministers, letter writing campaigns and a strong proposal put forward before the 2016 Budget, the NFRN’s campaign for a reduction in business rates met success. As of April 2017, more than 600,000 small businesses will be taken out of business rates all together. Rateable properties of less than 15,000 will be paying no rates at all, meaning a typical corner shop or newsagent will be paying no rates.

You can see the NFRN’s submission to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, here and the response.

Plain Packaging
The NFRN challenged the Department of Health to think again about putting tobacco products in plain packs, our submission can be found here. We submitted concerns made by newsagents and convenience stores that the introduction of plain packaging will provide a boost to counterfeiters and the illicit market, which in turn has a negative impact not only on legitimate and responsible businesses, but on public health too.
Press for Reform

For far too long the news and magazine supply chain has been dominated by over-mighty publishers and wholesalers that exert their market share in a manner that alters the market itself.

In July 2011, the NFRN launched the ‘Press for Reform’ campaign, which lobbied Parliamentarians and the Office of Fair Trading to refer the news supply chain to the Competition Commission for a full market investigation. In October 2012, the Competition Appeal Tribunal dismissed a joint appeal from the NFRN and the ACS over the Office of Fair Trading’s decision not to order a review of the News industry.

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