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The Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) says the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Spring Budget failed to address a number of factors that are threatening the very existence of many smaller retail businesses.

A major disappointment for smaller shops is a lack of support on high energy bills. And while a continued freeze on fuel duty is of some comfort, a hike in tax on alcohol and tobacco is another blow.

The Fed’s National President Jason Birks said: “I and other trade associations wrote to the chancellor and the business secretary just last month imploring them to provide the necessary help for struggling small businesses.

“It is, therefore, extremely disappointing that our calls for assistance have not been answered.”

Mr Birks said the tax rises on alcohol and tobacco will also lead to an increase in illicit trading, which again is harmful to honest shopkeepers and fuels organised crime.

He added: “The chancellor has shown a complete disregard for shops that are the lifeblood of their local communities.

“I make no bones about it – we will see many forced to close their doors for good as businesses become unviable in the current economic climate.”

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