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The Federation of Independent Retailers says the spending review in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s autumn Budget represents a double-edged sword for smaller businesses.

While pleased to learn the Chancellor has introduced a 50 per cent discount on business rates for independent retailers, and scrapped the planned increase on fuel duty, the increase in the national minimum wage from £8.91 to £9.50 an hour will undoubtedly have a serious detrimental effect on retailers’ ability to employ and retain staff.

National President Narinder Randhawa said: “In an ideal world, we would all like to pay our staff more, but the headline increase in the wage rate does not include the increase in National Insurance and pension contributions, as well as the forthcoming social care levy, that employers also have to pay.

“Rather than boosting many shop workers’ incomes, the increase in the minimum wage will have the opposite effect of threatening jobs in the sector.”

Mr Randhawa added: “With petrol and diesel prices at an all-time high, the cancellation of a planned increase on fuel duty will come as a relief to those retailers who provide home delivery services.

“While we broadly welcome the decision to freeze business rates and offer a 50 per cent discount for one year, we will continue to push for long-term reforms to make the system fairer for the independent retail sector.

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