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Retail industry overlooked in VAT cuts

Tom Bottomley
08 July 2020

The retail industry has not been included in the "Summer Economic Update" revealed by chancellor Rishi Sunak today, which granted a VAT cut for the hospitality industry - from 20% down to 5% - commencing 15 July, 2020, until 12 January, 2021.

Responding to the retail industry being left out of the VAT cuts, Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: “It was disappointing that the chancellor did not extend this measure to the retail industry and the three million people it employs. It was a missed opportunity and we hope that the government will reconsider this ahead of the autumn budget.”

However, Dickinson was buoyed by the chancellor’s huge support for employment and training in the UK as the economy emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. She commented: “Any interventions that aim to protect jobs and incomes are vital to households around the country. Time will tell if such measures can also bolster consumer demand, which remains well below pre-crisis levels, and the chancellor must be ready to take further actions if necessary.”

On the subject of employment, Dickinson said: “The new Job Retention Bonus will provide welcome support for bringing back hundreds of thousands of staff who have been on furlough in recent months. Furthermore, the measures put in place to support businesses to hire more young people, will be vital to boost the opportunities for them around the UK.”

With regard to training, Dickinson responded by saying that the current apprenticeship training landscape is “in need of a shot in the arm.” But she also said that the chancellor’s announcement to incentivise apprenticeships will be welcome news for millions of people of all ages.

She commented: “The next steps must be to carry out a wholesale review of the apprenticeship system with the aim of creating more flexibility to enable the Apprenticeship Levy to meet the skills needs of retailers. Retail is evolving, it is essential that those working in the industry, now and in the future, have the digital and technological skills to capitalise.”

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