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1 Sep 2022

Home Office data has shown more customers leaving shops, restaurants and petrol stations without paying as the cost-of-living crisis bites. The data shows there were 51,486 offences of...

31 Aug 2022

Industry charity GroceryAid has teamed up with Business Debtline to provide support and guidance to the growing number of independent retailers facing debt and unpaid invoices.
The move...

30 Aug 2022

Nearly 14% of small UK businesses expect to close in the next twelve months, according to a new report published by the Federation of Small Businesses.

25 Aug 2022

The Trade Remedies Authority, the UK body that investigates whether new trade remedy measures are needed to counter unfair import practices and unforeseen surges of imports, has proposed that...

24 Aug 2022

The Department for Transport has announced a £12.7m trial to begin later this year, in which GPs in England will be able to prescribe walking or cycling as a way of improving mental and...

23 Aug 2022

Government research has revealed that UK businesses only begin to appreciate the importance of cyber security once the business has sustained a “serious” attack.

18 Aug 2022

Small shops are defined as any shop less than 1,850m² (or 20,000 ft²). There are around 500,000 small shops in England and Wales – accounting for £11.5bn worth of rateable...

18 Aug 2022

Over 100 leading UK retailers have written a joint letter to Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales requesting that violence and abuse against retail workers be made a priority,...

17 Aug 2022

Industry magazine BikeBiz has opened nominations for its annual retailer awards in association with ArmaUrto. Categories include IBD of the Year, Omnichannel Retailer of the Year, and Best...

17 Aug 2022

According to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, retail sales rose in July though the news came with a warning that this could be the “lull before the storm”.

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How the Queen’s Speech affects independent shops

Posted on in Business News , Cycles News , Political News

The Prince of Wales delivered the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament today. The speech sets out the government’s agenda for the upcoming Parliament, outlining proposed policies and legislation. An overview of the main announcements relevant to independent shops is below. Please find a breakdown of all the policy announcements with context and explanatory notes from the Government's website here.

The Levelling Up Bill

The Government will bring forward the Levelling Up Bill which aims to grow the economy in towns and cities that need it the most while improving the planning system to empower local high streets. The Bill will reform the planning system by giving councils greater powers to bring empty premises back into use by enabling forced rental auctions of vacant shops in town centres and on high streets. The Bill will also require the Government to produce an annual report that monitors and updates its progress to deliver its missions for levelling up. Further details on the reforms are expected in the coming weeks.  

Non-Domestic Rates Bill

The Government will bring forward a Non-Domestic Rates Bill to deliver reforms to the business rates system. The reforms will include more frequent revaluations, incentivising investment through the introduction of a 12-month relief for improvements made to a property and improving the accuracy of valuations.

Whilst initiatives such as the Levelling Up Bill hold potential in the growth of local economies, there is still much to be resolved in terms of the unrealistic business rates, which remains to be one of the biggest causes of empty shops on our high streets.

Transport Bill

The Government will introduce a Transport Bill that will include proposals to support the roll out of electric vehicle (EV) charge points. The bill aims to keep the UK at the forefront of transport innovation by helping deliver the reforms the Government have promised to decarbonise transport, transform the way UK people travel, and better connect communities. The bill will deliver on the Government Electric Vehicle Strategy to enable the installation of more EV charge points throughout the UK, as part of the transition away from new petrol and diesel car and van sales by 2030.

Following the indication from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that the Queen’s Speech would hold information on the first legislative moves of e-scooters, the apparent omission on this subject was disappointing.

The legalisation of e-scooters on public roads would certainly provide an obvious opportunity for cycle retailers. Any changes in legislation are unlikely to come into effect quickly and therefore the ACT recommends that dealers should continue advise any potential customers looking to buy e-scooters about current government legislation. It is important the industry provides, and is seen to provide, clear advice to consumers at the point of sale about where e-scooters may be legally used.

Financial Services and Markets Bill

The Government will deliver a Financial Services and Markets Bill that will bring forward new laws to protect access to cash by revoking retained EU law on financial services and updating financial regulators’ objectives to bring about a greater focus on local economic growth. The Bill will support consumers by protecting access to cash by ensuring the continued availability of withdrawal and deposit facilities across the UK, and that the country’s cash infrastructure has a long-term sustainable system.

Public Order Bill

The Government will instate a Public Order Bill that will generate harsher sentences as well as establish new criminal offences for protest groups that lock themselves on, or attach themselves to, premises that are not their own. The bill will also give the police greater powers to conduct stop and search in a bid to prevent disruptive processes and impose Serious Disruption Prevention Orders on offenders that repeatedly endanger the public. In addition, groups that block highways and roads will receive stronger penalties for their actions, including substantial increases in fines.    

Brexit Freedoms Bill 

The Government has announced a Brexit Freedoms Bill. The bill seeks to make repealing laws inherited from the UK’s membership of the EU easier to repeal and reform. EU laws written into the British statute book will not be required to have a specific Commons vote on them. This may mean that these laws will be repealed or amended faster. It is unclear which laws the Government will target. However, the Government’s Benefits of Brexit policy paper, published earlier this year, outlined the plan to cut £1bn of red tape for businesses and improve regulation.

Energy Security Bill

The Government has announced an Energy Bill. The bill seeks to aid the Government’s plans to transition to net zero and build on the COP26 summit. The bill also aims to improve Britain’s energy security, which follows the Government’s energy security strategy policy paper published last month. The Bill also look at reducing the risk of fuel supply disruption by giving Government the power to give directions to, require information from, and provide financial assistance to core fuel sector businesses to ensure resilience and continuity of fuel supply. The measures impacting the fuel sector have been set out in the Draft Downstream Oil Bill.

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