MPs have launched an inquiry into the government’s handling of the Portas Review and the high street crisis.
The all-party Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, chaired by Labour MP Adrian Bailey, will examine the support given to the retail industry as it struggles with the shift to online shopping and soaring operating costs.
The review was welcomed by business leaders who have slammed the government for failing to tackle issues raised by the Portas Review, including rates, parking and planning regulations, while achieving little progress in the so-called Portas pilot projects.
“This is a positive step which comes at a crucial time for retailers,” said BRC director general, Helen Dickinson.
“It’s the right time to be considering the nature of these challenges and structural changes, and exploring what more the government can do to support retailers both now and in the future” - Helen Dickinson, BRC
“It’s the right time to be considering the nature of these challenges and structural changes, and exploring what more the government can do to support retailers both now and in the future.”
James Lowman, CEO of the Association of Convenience Stores, said he wanted a “challenging critique of the government’s performance against the Portas Review recommendations”.
“We will be urging the committee to make recommendations that will push government to reduce the burdens that are contributing to extremely low confidence amongst convenience retailers at a time when they could be investing and growing their business,” he added.
Freedom of Information (FoI) requests submitted by an independent retailer have revealed that only 7% of the money allotted to councils in March 2012 under the Portas Review has been spent. The requests, seen by the BBC, revealed that of the 72 councils that responded, 47 had not spent anything from the fund: just £519,363.22 out of £7.2m had been spent.