British Retail Consortium backs 'targeted cuts' in Spending Review

Retailers support urgent action to reduce the budget deficit and welcome the Government's commitment to provide improve certainty over jobs and services in detailed departmental business plans set to be published next month, the BRC said.

Reacting to the Comprehensive Spending Review, today (Wednesday), the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said uncertainty had undermined consumer confidence and discretionary spending.

The BRC welcomed the chancellor's commitment to infrastructure developments (including Crossrail) which it said would support private sector growth.

It called for consistency in Government policy to enable retailers to make investment decisions.

Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: "These are serious plans to tackle the Budget deficit and will remove some of the uncertainty which was driving down consumer confidence. Beginning to deal with the deficit now is right. Delays would just store up more pain for later, risking increased borrowing costs, higher taxes and more job losses.

"But individual households and communities will continue to be cautious until the impact on their future prospects is clear.  Retailers need the Government to communicate exactly how the cuts will be delivered as soon as possible so that they can make investment plans.

Robertson added: "It’s a tough judgement but the Government has achieved the right balance between public spending cuts and tax increases. The situation needs to be monitored carefully. There are testing times ahead. January’s VAT increase will have an impact on sales and we’re expecting a tough trading environment in the first quarter of 2011. The Government should avoid any further steps which might cause nervous consumers to take flight or deter businesses from taking on new staff."

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