SGF calls for retail support in general election manifesto

SGF sets up its stall for the General Election

Scottish Grocers' Federation chief executive Pete Cheema.
The Scottish Grocers’ Federation has set up its stall for the General Election as part of its new manifesto which highlights five key areas the next government needs to prioritise.

THE Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has launched its General Election manifesto following the announcement of the 4 July election.

The leading trade association in the Scottish convenience sector has laid out its key priorities for the next UK Government and calls out for newly elected MPs to further their support for local convenience stores.

The manifesto sets out five key areas the SGF are asking the next Westminster to focus on and build support for, setting out the issues that c-store retailers are currently facing as well as potential solutions for the next incoming government to consider.

Following the reveal of its manifesto, the SGF will also host a General Election Hustings as part of its upcoming Mini-Summit, which is set to place on 11 June at the Macdonald Inchyra Hotel in Falkirk.

They are as follows:
• Mounting Legislative Burden on retailers
• The implementation of the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS)
• Concerns over the Restrictions on Disposable Vapes and introduction of the Generational Smoking Ban
• The rising National Living Wage (NLW)
• Protecting Free Access to Cash services

In each area, the SGF has listed out its key concerns as well as potential solutions for the next government to consider to help curb these issues.

For Mounting Legislative Burden, the SGF has highlighted that new policies and legislation that retailers have to contend with often falls hardest on these c-store owners, with most unable to contend with this due to a lack in capacity or resources. As a result, the SGF has called for better public education and awareness over these matters and, for any required future legislations, for there to be a suitable adjustment period to allow retailers to make the required changes.

This mirrors the SGF’s call for an adjustment period over the Scottish Government’s implementation of the new price for minimum unit pricing at 65p, which is set to come in this September.

With the call for DRS, the SGF has said that all devolved governments must be aligned on its delivery which will clarity on what the new legislation will look like when it is implemented in time for the new date of October 2027.

As for the incoming nicotine products ban, the SGF has said there needs to be a far more balanced approach to the ban on disposable vapes as well as the generational ban, one that would support retailers as well as the community at large. Along with this, the trade body has called for stricter border controls, to ensure that only legal products enter into the country to fight back against rising counterfeit concerns.

Additionally, the SGF has called for the NLW to be tied to the current economic conditions and should only rise in a way that ensures a sensitivity to the impact on different industry sectors.

Finally, protecting free access to cash calls for the new Westminster government to ensure a free-to-use ATM network is readily available to consumers across the whole of the UK and, where possible, paid services should be replaced with free-to-use ones.

Pete Cheema, chief executive at the SGF, said: “Retail is absolutely vital to the Scottish Economy, and convenience stores are at the very heart of the communities they serve. Providing essential lifeline goods and facilities that boost local wellbeing, growth and employment.

“Ministers in both Westminster and Edinburgh have a duty to ensure that new regulation is supporting our good, well-meaning businesses, and not pulling the rug out from under them.

“That is why we are asking the new UK Government, whatever their political views, to take a serious look at how overregulation is impacting small business, local shops and the entire UK supply chain.

“Our manifesto sets out five key areas, where powers rest with decision makers in the UK Parliament, and over the coming weeks we will keep an eagle eye on the promises that are made throughout the campaign to support business and grow the economy.”