Continued swingeing cuts mean that retailers might have to pay for help and advice from local authorities and trading standards in the near future.

The stark warning came from Philip Le Shirley of Surrey County Council, speaking at the ACS Heart of the Community summit, held last week in central London.

“If you could be advised, would you be prepared to pay for it?”, he asked delegates in the room.

He said that cuts were already affecting the work of trading standards and that he expected more to have a negative effect on their work.

The summit saw presentations and debates from retailers including Raaj Chandarana of Tara’s News in High Wycombe, Bucks, and Dean Holborn of Holborn’s in Redhill, Surrey, as well as MPs Simon Danczuk, shadow business minister Bill Esterson and Phil Boswell of the Scottish National Party.

Key topics such as business rates, Sunday trading and the national living wage were discussed, as well as the potential impact of Government devolving power to a local level.

Retailers were urged to lobby their MPs on Sunday trading and engage with their local authorities, while Esterson called for the Government to adopt a more “collaborative approach”.

Danczuk urged for a fresh look at funding for small businesses and reiterated his call for small stores to be taken out of business rates altogether.

“More pressure should be put on banks to support small business investment and entrepreneurship,” he said.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said the ACS was making the case for convenience by presenting hard evidence in its lobbying activities, and pushing the Government
to change its thinking on
key issues.

“We should be proud of the role that convenience stores play in society,” he added.