UK retailers have called for “strong leadership” and “clarity” from Liz Truss who was announced today as the new prime minister.
Truss defeated former chancellor Rishi Sunak to succeed Boris Johnson and become the new leader of the Conservative Party, winning 57 percent of votes from party members.
She steps into the top job at a difficult time amid surging inflation and energy costs across the UK.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson congratulated Truss on her victory and urged her to “demonstrate strong leadership as the cost-of-living crisis deepens”.
“Retailers continue to play their part, keeping prices as low as possible and helping households by offering discounts to vulnerable groups, expanding value ranges, raising staff pay, and offering reduced-cost or free children’s meals,” Dickinson said.
She said that the retail industry “is ready to work with the new government to shore up consumer confidence and help deliver economic growth”.
But to do that, businesses “need clarity on the government’s intentions as soon as possible so they can understand the inflationary impact of any policy decisions”.
Retailers call for immediate action from Liz Truss
Ways to do this, the BRC said, include freezing the business rates multiplier for all retail businesses for the next financial year, protecting the industry from rate increases linked to inflation, and giving greater scope to hold down prices, protect jobs, and support the economy.
Similarly, The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) urged the new PM for more support for retailers up and down the country, including reduced VAT and a “100 percent rates relief” for smaller retailers for the rest of the year amid surging energy costs.
During her victory speech, Truss said she “will deliver on the energy crisis, dealing with people's energy bills, but also dealing with the long term issues we have on energy supply”.
There have been suggestions that Truss could announce a freeze on energy bills, which are set to surge even further in the coming months, though it is unclear how such a freeze would be funded.
BIRA chief executive Andrew Goodacre said: “Independent retailers are integral to high streets. High streets are integral to communities and so they need support and protection from this toxic economic situation.
“For many smaller retailers, Covid-19 has drained them of cash and we must not let perfectly viable businesses disappear from the communities they serve.”