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Campaigning for You

Learn more about our political engagement work in the corridors of power.


Championing you where it matters most

Our campaigning is an important part of the work we do to support and represent you.

Our political engagement team focuses on the issues that affect you and your business. Among others, we engage with:

  • Politicians in the parliaments and assemblies across the UK
  • Members of the Dail Eireann
  • Police and crime commissioners
  • Officials in the Home Office, Scottish Government and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

As well as fighting on issues raised by government, such as our ongoing campaign to oppose changes to the Sunday trading laws, we also drive the campaigning on a range of important issues. These include retail crime, the introduction of a deposit return scheme, reform of business rates and the impact of increasing payroll costs.

Each year we lay out our policy positions and objectives in the Independent Retail Report.

Fighting Retail Crime


No one working behind a counter should have to suffer verbal or physical abuse.

Nobody running a business should see their hard work put at risk from shop theft.

Thanks to our efforts, retail crime is now high on the agenda in the Home Office. We continue to push the government, police and crime commissioners and local police forces to take retail crime seriously, prosecute offenders and give you the support you should be able to expect.

Through our membership of the National Retail Crime Steering Group and regular meetings with ministers, we continue to push for the £200 ‘low value shop theft’ category to be abolished. We also want all police and crime commissioners to include tackling retail crime in their statutory crime plans.


Reforming Business Rates


Business rates have been increasing year on year.

The current system needs reform, and we are working with the government and other stakeholders to level the playing field with online retailers who pay a fraction of the business rates you do.

The government has started a review of business rates. We will be engaging fully to get you the continued protection from business rates you need.

Managing Costs


Nobody denies the need to pay a decent wage for a day’s work.

But the current fixation with targets for the national living wage takes no account of the knock-on effects on your costs. Increases in hourly rates also increase your NI contributions and pension costs. It is quickly becoming unsustainable.

Too many business owners are taking on ever-more hours because they cannot afford the costs of paying staff.

Among others, we continue to engage with the Low Pay Commission, which recommends increases in the national living wage to government. We want to persuade ministers to beyond hourly rates, considering the impact to total payroll costs and businesses like yours having to meet these costs.

A Deposit Return Scheme That Works For All

Read more on Scottish DRS

Read more on Irish DRS


Recycling has become part of our way of life, but there is more still to do.

Governments across the UK are committed to the introduction of a deposit return scheme (DRS), where consumers pay slightly more for the product but get the extra – the deposit – back if they return the container to a retailer, collection machine or other collection point.Scotland has already passed legislation for its scheme to begin in July 2022.

We are campaigning for DRS schemes that work for all retailers. Independent retailers should benefit from any increased footfall. With the UK government still developing its policy, this work continues.


Latest Updates:

Current Campaigns

Keep Sundays Special

The government is considering changes to Sunday trading laws in England and Wales to allow larger stores to open all day on a Sunday. The NFRN is working with others across the industry to oppose this damaging and unnecessary change.


Illicit Trade - Suspect it? Report it!


The illicit trade market, in particular tobacco and alcohol, is a costly £3.6bn burden to both legitimate retailers and the Treasury.

The NFRN has campaigned against measures such as plain packaging which may increase the volume of illicit trade. We have also called for the government, Trading Standards, police and HMRC to do more to combat illicit trade. Counterfeit tobacco and alcohol are a particular concern to independent retailers.The proliferation of these products results in a substantial loss of sales for legitimate retailers. It also poses serious health risks to consumers.


NFRN and Imperial Tobacco team up to fight illicit tobacco

Suspect It, Report It banner

50,000 anti-illicit trade (AIT) packs branded with Imperial’s award-winningSuspect it? Report it! campaign were distributed to UK retailers in January 2017. Each pack contained a range of in-store activation materials, including infographics, posters and stickers. These resources were specifically created to raise awareness and understanding among retailers, their staff and adult smoker customers about the dangers of the illicit tobacco trade.

Peter Nelson, AIT Manager, Imperial Tobacco, said: “Latest reports* suggest around one in six factory-made cigarettes and two in five hand-rolled cigarettes smoked in the UK are of an illicit nature, which is among the highest in the EU. This illegal product can often be unregulated. It also threatens retailers’ livelihoods, brings criminal elements into local communities and deprives government of billions of pounds in much-needed tax revenue each year.

“We strongly believe that collaboration between government, industry and law enforcement is the only way to achieve long-term success, with all partners working together in a focused manner to achieve the government’s objectives of not only reducing the illegal trade, but also helping restrict youth access to prohibited products.”


What to do if you suspect illegal tobacco is being sold

If you have any suspicions around the sale of illegal tobacco where you live, report it! Contact either the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000, NFRN Connect or your local Trading Standards/police. You can also contact your Imperial Tobacco sales representative.


How to follow the campaign

If you would like to read more about the illicit trade, please visit, or follow @suspect_report on Twitter.


Past Campaigns

National Living Wage & Auto-enrolment

The NFRN is sympathetic to annual calls to increase the national living wage. However, our members cannot easily absorb these raises and they hinder their business growth.

This impact has not been anticipated by the government. It is important that the government and the Low Pay Commission consider the financial burden they place on independent retailers – and provide appropriate support.

Other challenging and costly policies are also affecting independent retailers. One such policy is the rollout of workplace pension auto-enrolment. Many independent retailers had to outsource auto-enrolment and payroll, adding to the already high cost resulting from minimum employer contributions.


The NFRN calls for:

The government to review the impact of the living wage and auto-enrolment on small and micro businesses and to assess the level of increases scheduled.


Sugar Tax

Giant canthetax poster submitted to the Chancellor

The NFRN has joined forces with several industry associations, representing more than 400,000 people, to fight against the government’s proposed sugar tax. The ‘Face the Facts, Can the Tax’ campaign is supported by a coalition of British businesses who have come together to highlight the damaging economic consequences of the tax. We urge the government to rethink the policy and focus instead on proven solutions that will address obesity. The group includes soft drinks manufacturers, wholesalers, small shops, newsagents, restaurants, bars, and pubs. They are warning the tax will do nothing to tackle obesity, and risks causing thousands of job losses and higher prices for those who can least afford it.

13 October 2016 The NFRN has reiterated its calls for education rather than regulation in its response to the government’s consultation on the proposed sugar tax. In its submission, the NFRN has warned that instead of reducing instances of obesity, a tax on sugary soft drinks will only hit hard working independent retailers who are already reeling from higher costs arising from the newly launched National Living Wage, business rates and from complying with the tobacco display ban. The NFRN reminded the government that in Mexico a soft drinks tax only reduced the daily sugar intake by six calories per person. Instead, the NFRN said that consumers needed to be better educated into the effects of sugar and the alternatives available.


NFRN’s Day of Action against the sugar tax

Customers holding up canthetax postcards

27 September 2016

Nearly 2,000 independent retailers got behind the NFRN’s call for the government to rethink its plans for a sugar tax on sugary drinks.

Since the NFRN’s Day of Action against the proposed sugar tax on Friday 16 September, almost 1,500 store owners have filled out a postcard to chancellor Philip Hammond registering their objection to the proposal and saying no to the tax. A further 459 have written to their MP, warning the move will devastate their businesses while failing to tackle the UK’s obesity problems.

Posters stating that a potential 58p price increase on a two litre bottle of a sugary soft drink will cause shop closures and job losses have also gone up in thousands of stores nationwide.

NFRN Chief Executive Paul Baxter said: “While we understand the government has got to get to grips with rising obesity levels, we believe the proposal for a sugar tax is flawed. That’s why thousands of independent retailers are joining our call for chancellor Philip Hammond to reconsider and come up with a solution that will not threaten the survival of local independent shops.”


Twitter is a great way to get your voice heard, so make sure you follow the campaign on the NFRN Twitter page and by using the hashtag #canthetax

#PayPointPayFair Campaign
In May 2015, PayPoint informed retailers it was reducing the cap that applies to transaction commissions. The NFRN responded by referring this matter to its lawyers and is considering making a formal complaint about PayPoint to the payment system regulator (PRS) in an attempt to seek a full market investigation into the over-the-counter payment and collection services market.

A letter to energy regular, OFGEM, has also been posted. It warns of the invidious situation PayPoint retailers now find themselves in and calls for an immediate investigation.

The NFRN escalated its dispute against payment service provider, PayPoint, by urging its 9,000 members who operate terminals with them to write to their MPs asking them to raise concerns in Parliament about the decision to reduce the cap on retailer’s commissions. Independent retailers play a vital role in ensuring consumers have access to over-the-counter payment and collection services, but it is inconceivable that they are expected to operate at a loss.

In letters to MPs, many retailers are considering removing terminals from their stores, denying vulnerable and elderly customers the opportunity to pay bills, top-up keys for their electricity or gas metres, or pick up their benefits.

Plain Packaging
The NFRN challenged the Department of Health to think again about putting tobacco products in plain packs. Read our submission here.

We submitted concerns made by newsagents and convenience stores that the introduction of plain packaging will provide a boost to counterfeiters and the illicit market.In turn, this will have a negative impact on legitimate and responsible businesses as well as public health.

Learn More:

Independent Retail Report

The Fed Insights

So we can better help our members the Federation needs to understand the members’ businesses and the challenges that they face. Through our surveys, both regular and in response to events, we ask our members to tell us what is impacting on their businesses, what help they need and how they see the independent retail sector developing.

Consultation Responses

The NFRN responds to a wide range of government calls for evidence and consultations. Our responses will be published here.


Knife Sale Guidance