Retail Strategy — [Sir David Crausby in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:49 pm on 10th July 2019.

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Photo of Kelly Tolhurst Kelly Tolhurst Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 3:49 pm, 10th July 2019

Absolutely, but the hon. Lady will know that all the sector deals are being driven by the sectors themselves with the support of Government and with strong leadership and great ideas. My wider hope for the retail sector is that we will see that deal delivered by the Retail Sector Council as soon as possible.

Costs to business is another workstream, and a number of Members raised them. As part of that workstream, the co-chair and I are meeting the Financial Secretary to the Treasury next week to discuss some of the preliminary findings on costs to business in the retail sector. A large survey of the entire sector was carried out. That area is of big interest to me in terms of how we levy taxation in the future. The skills and lifelong learning workstream is running in parallel with the costs to business workstream. Some of the early work on that is being led by Amazon and a small working group, and that is proving useful.

Alongside the work of the retail sector, the Department regularly considers a wide range of policies. My officials are working across Whitehall on policies that affect the retail sector. A number of Members have mentioned support for our high streets. Members may know that the high streets Minister, Jake Berry, has recently taken on a joint portfolio with my Department. As I am the retail sector Minister, we work closely on joined-up thinking on retail and high streets. We have the £1.6 billion action plan for high streets, which includes the £675 million future high streets fund. We are seeing 50 organisations move to the next stage in the development of the plans, which will enable local authorities and local populations to drive the development of their towns. We have the taskforce, which will work with local authorities across the country to deliver help for those that need to increase their retail space.

I will sit down now, because I recognise that the hon. Member for Blaydon may want to come in. I am happy to have another meeting with her on the other questions she asked.