The leader of shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has written to Rishi Sunak to outline the union’s key priorities for next week’s Budget on Wednesday 3 March.
Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to highlight what the union sees as the key issues that need to be addressed in his Budget statement next week.
The letter lists five areas that the union is calling on the government to address:
- Retail Recovery Plan to tackle the immediate crisis on our high streets, help save jobs and tackle long-term structural issues in the retail industry.
- Statutory Sick Pay to be increased to normal earnings so that workers can afford to take time off if they are ill or have to self-isolate.
- Universal Credit to retain the £20 weekly uplift, which has been an important financial help to many low-paid workers.
- Job Retention Scheme to be extended to the end of the year, giving business confidence while the economy recovers and job security for employees.
- Union Learning Fund to be continued to help reach the workers other schemes do not and engage them in learning.
On the Retail Recovery Plan, the letter states:
“Retail needs measures to deal with the immediate crisis facing retail and we need a longer-term strategy to deal with some of the more fundamental structural issues. Usdaw is calling for the Government to adopt an urgent recovery plan for the retail sector.”
According to Usdaw, this plan should feature:
- An extension to the current business rates holiday for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, which is due to end on 31 March 2021.
- A fundamental reform of business rates and an Online Sales Levy set at 1% of online sales, which could fund a cut in business rates.
- An extension to the moratorium on shop evictions for rent arrears, which is due to finish at the end of March.
To read the letter in full, visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/Budget2021
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary, said: “There is no doubt that the pandemic has raised many serious issues for working people, some new and others that have been around for a long time. So we are challenging the Chancellor to address these issues in the Budget by not just tackling the immediate problems, but making sure we build back better.
“Usdaw has long called for the Government and retailers to work together to develop an industrial strategy and recovery plan for retail. Nearly 180,000 retail job losses and around 20,000 store closures last year lay bare the scale of the challenge the industry faces. Each one of those job losses is a personal tragedy for the individual worker and store closures are scarring our high streets and communities. There are substantial issues that need to be addressed like rents, rates and taxation, to create a level playing field between high streets and online retail. Business also needs some certainty and extending furlough would help to save jobs. Also reform is needed so that workers receive at least minimum wage rates in furlough pay.”