Retailers and manufacturers have called on the Chancellor for measures to help them support a private sector-led recovery in his inaugural Budget later this month.
The British Retailers Consortium (BRC) made a plea for protection from further pain as it said the sector was already struggling under £670 million of extra government-imposed costs.
The BRC said firms were left reeling from a raft of new burdens - including the £12 billion a year rise in VAT from January 1, last October’s 2.2 per cent hike in the minimum wage and upcoming increases in business rates and national insurance.
Manufacturing body the EEF joined the BRC in urging the Chancellor to help boost investment and innovation in the private sector ahead of Budget Day on March 23.
The Budget will be the first for George Osborne since becoming Chancellor last year.
However, he has already launched a swathe of changes under the spending review to slash Britain’s debt, as well as last month’s bank tax increase, which was widely seen as a mini-Budget.
The BRC said any further impositions on the retail sector would “undermine its ability to maintain and create jobs”.
In its Budget submission to Mr Osborne, the BRC stresses the retail sector is central to a private sector-led recovery.
It has outlined a 20-point plan, including a request for 18 months’ notice of any future minimum wage increases and to suspend the fuel duty increase in April to help both consumers and retailers.
Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, said: “While it may be true that ‘the broadest shoulders should bear the biggest burden’, the retail sector, which operates on slim margins, is already seeing its load increase sharply. New impositions can only hinder retail’s ability to invest.”
The EEF stepped up its lobbying with a submission asking for a clear strategy for growth now that the Government’s austerity cuts are well under way.
It wants help in gaining access to financing from banks by overhauling and monitoring the banking sector, as well as reforms of taxes to help manufacturers.
Terry Scuoler, EEF chief executive, said: “Rebalancing our economy requires growth that is driven by innovation, investment and trade.
“Manufacturing can deliver this growth, but firms can choose from a wide a range of locations and will only invest in the UK if we develop a business environment that can compete with the best in the world. The Budget and growth review must be the start of a Parliament-long project to put this in place.”