NFRN National President Mike Mitchelson has reacted to the Spring Statement made by Chancellor Philip Hammond today (13 March 2019):

Planning for Future High Streets: “The government has announced it will publish a consultation on ‘Planning for Future High Streets’ in the coming months. It is a relief to see that the government has finally understood how grave the retail crisis is, and is trying to devise new solutions. In its submission to the consultation, the NFRN will urge the government to consider the situation of small retailers who cannot afford to rent or own premises in high streets and operate in adjacent streets. These hardworking people are also crippled by high rents, high wages and burdensome regulations. Their voice also needs to be heard in the debate.”

Knife and violent crime: “I welcome the announcement of additional funding to police forces in the worst affected areas in England and Wales for knife and violent crime. Crime is one of the main concerns of independent retailers, who cannot afford to hire security staff and often work alone late in the evening. The NFRN, which provides the secretariat for the APPG on Retail Crime, will continue its efforts to make sure violent crime is high on the political agenda. Small retailers should be free from fear at their workplace!”

National Living Wage (NLW): “The government has confirmed that it will set a new remit for the Low Pay Commission beyond 2020. The NFRN is sympathetic with calls for decent wages for workers. However, we are deeply concerned about the impact that these increases have on small retailers. Some of our members work more than 70 hours a week because they cannot afford to hire more staff. The Low Pay Commission should pay attention to this alarming trend of shop owners burning themselves out because of national measures that are not business-friendly. The NFRN strongly hopes that the review entrusted to Professor Arindrajit Dube will bring additional evidence to support small retailers’ cause.”

Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT: “We are disappointed that the scheme has not been postponed until retailers receive appropriate support from HMRC. Our smaller members are concerned about additional expenses and having to pay for new software. Other members feel lost by the lack of advice from HMRC when it comes to selecting compatible software. While we welcome the government’s “light touch approach” to penalties, we regret that they haven’t been more supportive to small businesses.” Read our Guide to Making Tax Digital for VAT


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