October Political Intelligence
Fashion in Parliament: Latest News
Assaults on Retail Workers – Alex Norris (Lab – Nottingham North) has brought forward a proposed bill to protect retail workers from assault, in a similar logic vein to bills proposing additional legal coverage for NHS and public-sector workers. Retail workers are the subject of 250 ‘violent situations’ per day in the UK and often regulations imposed on them by legislation are the causes, the proposal is then that regulation on both sides are enforced.
Ending Exploitation in Supermarket Supply Chains – Kerry McCarthy (Lab – Bristol East), proposed a motion to discuss what more can be done to eliminate exploitation, including slavery in supply chains. Fashion Roundtable have expertise in managing more effective sourcing and sustainability in the supply chain and it is excellent to see this being given focus in Parliament.
Reforming Business Rates - Rachael Maskell (Lab – York Central), presented a petition to Parliament that had attracted 1,459 signatures, stating the following: “the current business rates system is out-of-date, unfair and is undermining the viability of our high streets, our hospitality industry and many small businesses across the UK”
Reforming business rates is an area we have discussed with several clients as we build a policy portfolio focused on improving the vibrancy of UK high streets. If this is an area you are interested in, do get in contact with our team, to learn more about what we have done so far.
The Budget – Winners and Losers
The build-up to the annual budget this year largely focused on whether this was going to be a Brexit emergency budget, or a business-as-usual budget. It proved to be the latter, but the Chancellor warned that in the event of a no-deal or a bad deal, it was likely a new budget would be required, with revised figures and targets. The Chancellor was not given an easy ride leading up to the announcement, as many in his party and in No.10 appeared to challenge some of his key messaging, but in general there was optimism about the proposals.
This article provides a fashion tint to the winners from this year’s budget.
High street SMEs are set to benefit twofold from this year’s budget, as over half a million small businesses will now receive business rates relief and £675 million is now being made available in a new future high streets fund. This year we have seen ongoing challenges for high street brands, as store costs and the growth of online sales has squeezed brands out of towns. Recognising the value that the high street has in communities across Britain, this pro-retail policy will be heartily received across the industry.
Fashion Multinationals, whilst potentially reaping some rewards from the new pro-high street agenda, will also benefit from an infrastructure investment commitment made in this year’s budget. Organisations the size of Burberry and M&S start to become heavily impacted by the quality of transport links, more than SMEs, and so investment in these factors of our economy will likely decrease the economies of scale value and encourage more expansive domestic growth. From a Foreign Direct Investment perspective, better infrastructure should also encourage brands and businesses into Britain and could be a part of Britain’s new story as a manufacturer.
The commitment to improve internet connectivity, in particular, will be an important component in spreading the benefits of online sales across the UK. At the moment, the best connectivity is found in the midlands and south east and these benefits are not being felt across the north of the country and in Scotland. The multiplier effect of FDI into these regions would be greater than in London.
Outside of the direct fashion world, tech companies are set to face a new tax which should generate roughly £400m per year. Rather than being an aggressive culture changing tax, this is more of a signal of intent that tech companies will need to improve their tax paying approach, with the potential for greater taxes if fairness doesn’t improve.
There were also groans as it became clear that no new money would be made available for social care provisions, something that initially it looked may happen. A similar story was true for mental health, however in general it was clear that this was a political shift change from the Government, making the case that years of austerity could now yield greater Government spending and investment in the economy.
Whilst all of this may be true, for now. A long shadow still hangs over the Treasury, as March 2019 draws closer. It will only be in December, when the details of any potential deal with the EU are agreed, that these proposals will be able to face effective implementation and provide the benefits that Philip Hammond set out in his Budget.