The BRC calls on the new Government to “put consumers first” in negotiations

The BRC calls on the new Government to “put consumers first” in negotiations

The UK retail industry is calling on the next Government to put shoppers first in Brexit negotiations, ensuring they are protected from the cost of unwanted new tariffs.

Ahead of the general election on 8 June, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has outlined its core policy vision for the retail industry, offering recommendations to political parties on everything from Brexit negotiations through to tax, skills and corporate governance.

"The challenges we face as we negotiate our future relationship with Europe makes it essential for policy makers to understand the rapid change and testing conditions that retail must operate in," the BRC says in its campaign. "Policies that support economic growth and a business tax environment fit for purpose in the 21st century, is what's needed from the next Government to support retail in its mission to drive productivity with better jobs, innovation and investment to improve the communities they serve."

The BRC calls on the new Government to "put consumers first" in negotiations, ensuring ordinary shoppers are protected from the cost of unwanted new tariffs, and to secure a transitional arrangement that recognises all goods in free circulation, "thereby avoiding a cliff edge scenario." It also calls for assurances for the retail industry's EU workforce.

"Helping retailers to keep prices low for consumers also means negotiating frictionless customs arrangements; providing certainty for EU colleagues working in the UK; and securing the continuity of existing EU legislation as it transfers to the UK," it adds.

The BRC recommends an acceleration in investment in digital infrastructure and enabling businesses to build the required skills faster.

Responding to reports of pledges this week from the Conservative Party on workers' rights, Fionnuala Horrocks-Burns, employment and skills policy adviser at the BRC, said retailers will work with the next government to ensure the retail jobs of the future are "as attractive, accessible and as well-remunerated as possible."

"With new jobs demanding new skills across the industry, providing retailers and their workforces with certainty ahead of the Brexit negotiations is a welcome step forward.

"On wages, it is important the Low Pay Commission retain their independence and recommend pay increases that are manageable for the whole economy. Retailers support the National Living Wage and continue to work hard to raise pay across the industry but increasing pay without considering wider economic conditions is unsustainable."