Business shadow minister Bill Esterson has pledged that Labour would deliver better policies for independent retailers in areas including police support and business rates.

Speaking to RN at the launch of the NFRN’s 2019 Independent Retail Report in London last week, Esterson said: “It’s so important that we, as politicians, support the NFRN and its members.

“We are on the side of the independent retailer. They do a really great job providing an additional service to the community beyond what the public sector can do.”

Esterson added that this is vital when developing policies to ensure independents feel considered.

“We want to get our policies right and make sure we can support independents with whatever they need, whether that be putting more police on the streets or revitalising their high streets,” he said.

The report highlighted that 83% of people working in convenience stores have been subject to verbal abuse. Vice chair of the retail crime parliamentary group MP David Hanson told RN that a call for evidence launched last month by crime minister Victoria Atkins could help lower shopworker abuse.

He told RN: “We have put some strong pressure on the crime minister. I am eager to see the results of the consultation, and I will be chewing the minister’s head off about this.”

Hanson reinforced the importance for retailers to submit evidence in order to get action. “My plea is for every newsagent to contribute and make sure they contact their local MP to tell them what’s happening on the ground,” he said.

“There is potential for the first time to get action on this increasing issue.” Other areas focused on in the NFRN’s report include business rates, news industry pressures, competition and regulation.

NFRN national president Mike Mitchelson told MPs in the room: “In this current trading environment, retailers have never faced such a challenging time, but I am confident that with your help, independent retailers everywhere can become stronger and face those challenges.”

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