Home secretary Priti Patel has promised the NFRN she will secure the organisation more opportunities to meet officials from the home office to discuss retail crime.

NFRN national president Stuart Reddish, vice president Muntazir Dipoti and immediate past president Mike Mitchelson were in attendance at the Conservative party conference last week in London.

Mitchelson told betterRetailing he was encouraged by his conversation with Patel. “She understands the impact of retail crime because her parents were shop owners,” he said.

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“She promised that, if we can feed her more information, then she can work with us to set up meetings with officials in the Home Office. She gave us the contact details of various people.”

Following the announcement of an increase in the minimum wage to £10.50 an hour over the next five years, Reddish challenged secretary of state Andrea Leadsom on the decision during a fringe meeting.

He asked whether there could be any government aid to soften the blow for independent retailers due to other pressures they are dealing with, including shop theft and business rates.

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Reddish said: “I understand that the government would not want to commit to providing extra financial help without wanting to ensure the sustainability of such a move.

“I will be looking at ways in which we can collaborate with the government to ensure the implementation of this policy takes into consideration that businesses are often working on a small margin, which will be further eroded by the change.”

Mitchelson added that he also had the chance to speak to leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, about the importance of small businesses to the economy.

“He agreed that independents were important to communities by providing local employment,” said Mitchelson.

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