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Debenhams closures: Usdaw asks how many more major high street brands do we have to lose before the Government acts to Save our Shops?

Date: 14 May 2021 Retail trade union Usdaw renews the call for an urgent retail recovery plan, as high streets across the UK are devastated by tomorrow’s closure of the last remaining Debenhams stores.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “It is devastating news for our high streets and the staff that Debenhams’ are closing all their stores tomorrow. Each one of those job losses is a personal tragedy for the individual worker and store closures are scarring our high streets and communities. With online fashion retailer Boohoo buying Debenhams and choosing to close all stores, they are ending nearly 250 years of retailing history and putting in big hole in many town and city centres.
 
“What retail needs is a joined up strategy of unions, employers and government working together to develop a recovery plan. Usdaw has long called for an industrial strategy for retail, as part of our ‘Save our Shops’ campaign, to help a sector that was already struggling before the coronavirus emergency. There are substantial issues that need to be addressed likes rents, rates and taxation, to create a level playing field between high streets and online retail.
 
“I’m pleased that Labour is taking action on this important issue and has set up a new independent Commission on Rebuilding Our High Streets, on which I will be speaking up for retail workers and advising on a strategy to help the retail industry out of crisis. Retail is crucial to our town and city centres, it employs around three million people across the UK. The Government must take this seriously; we need a recovery plan to get the industry back on its feet.”
 
Usdaw’s Save our Shops campaign has long called for action to support a struggling retail industry, which includes:
  • Extending the current business rates holiday to at least the end of the year and fundamentally reform this outdated and imbalanced commercial property tax.
  • Introducing an online sales levy set at 1%, to raise around £1.5bn that could fund a cut in business rates of around 20%.
  • Extending the moratorium on shop evictions for rent arrears and find a wider solution around unpaid rents, with contributions from retailers, landlords and government.
Usdaw’s full retail recovery plan: www.usdaw.org.uk/retailrecovery
 
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
 
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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