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Government changes to Sunday trading will strangle retailers in red tape says Usdaw

Date: 03 February 2016 Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett has warned the Government not to impose huge bureaucratic burdens on retailers by having different Sunday trading regulations in every local authority area across England and Wales.

His comments come after the Business Secretary yesterday announced the Government’s intention to table an amendment to the Enterprise Bill to devolve Sunday trading laws to local authorities and allowing councils to “zone” any relaxation. The changes will only apply to large stores because small stores (under 3,000 square feet) are unrestricted and already free to open as long as they like.

The Government has not yet published the detail of their proposals, however a BIS press release indicates that they will allow 306 different councils to change Sunday trading in their area.

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Although the Government hasn’t revealed the consultation responses, five months after it closed, I can assure them that devolving Sunday trading is not welcomed because it would create chaos in the retail sector, tying up business in red tape as they try to operate in over 300 different regulatory regimes across the country.

“The chaos is made much worse by allowing local authorities to create zones of different opening hours, which we predict will lead to legal challenges against councils as they discriminate against competing retailers based on where their shop is located. Different regulatory regimes across the country gives retailers yet another headache in an already difficult trading environment. MPs would be wise to reject this unpopular and unworkable devolution of trading hours.

“If the Government really wants to help retailers, they would cut overheads by reforming business rates, lower prices for customers by reducing VAT and help councils lower car parking charges for shoppers.

“The Sunday Trading Act is a great British compromise, which has worked well for over 20 years and gives everyone a little bit of what they want. Retailers can trade, customers can shop, staff can work; whilst Sunday remains a special day, different to other days, and shopworkers can spend some time with their family.”

Notes for editors:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 440,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

Usdaw survey of retail staff: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/CMSPages/GetFile.aspx?guid=e401039e-75f9-4675-8216-56fa579b65b0

The BIS Consultation closed on 16 September and applies to England and Wales: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/devolving-sunday-trading-rules

For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers