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Sunday 25 August 2019


Government’s strategy ‘must not neglect retail’

Written by Peter Walker

The government’s Industrial Strategy must honour its ‘open door’ offer to industry and do more to engage with sectors such as retail, which risk being left behind, according to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee.

A new report has criticised the government’s development of its Industrial Strategy through sector deals, stating that a focus on hi-tech sectors such as offshore wind has ignored productivity boosts for retail and hospitality.

Rachel Reeves, chair of the committee, commented that sector deals won’t be enough on their own to tackle the UK’s productivity puzzle or insulate industry from the fall-out of a no-deal Brexit.

“But sector deals are a key plank of the government’s Industrial Strategy and, if agreed fairly and honoured fully, have the potential to make an important contribution to boosting the nation’s lagging productivity, improving competitiveness, and delivering growth to all parts of the UK.

“The Industrial Strategy isn’t doing enough for the ‘everyday economy’, in sectors such as retail and hospitality where millions of Brits are employed,” she continued, adding that the ‘open door’ offer to industry isn’t being delivered upon in these neglected sectors and the government needs to be much clearer about the criteria for sector deals and engage more actively and decisively to make these happen.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, pointed out that retail is an important part of the British economy, providing jobs for over three million people.

“We are in the midst of an unprecedented transformation, yet many businesses are being held back by a rising tide of public policy costs, not least the spiralling business rates, which will rise once again in April.

“We welcome the call by the committee for government to take positive action to support the reinvention of the industry – if it fails to act, the consequences for communities across the country may be stark.”

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