The Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) has urged the chancellor to address concerns that continue to threaten smaller retail businesses.

The Fed’s national president, Jason Birks (pictured) has written to Jeremy Hunt with a list of issues, ahead of the Budget on March 15. His concerns highlight rising costs across a number of areas, including energy.

Birks said: “The energy relief scheme is simply not enough. Support needs to be targeted for small businesses feeling the biggest impact of the energy crisis. The government must look at the way it can target support to these businesses and support them during this time of crisis. 

“We also want to see the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Ofgem encourage energy suppliers to help the most vulnerable business customers renegotiate or ‘blend and extend’ their energy contracts to better reflect lower wholesale energy prices.”

Other concerns include the rising price of goods, which Birks said is likely to result in a further increase in retail crime; the current labour shortage; and the proposed deposit return scheme (DRS) in Scotland.

He added: “The Fed is also calling on the government to provide support to small businesses that are being affected by the rising cost of fuel. It will ultimately put people out of business.

“It is essential that the chancellor considers all these points for the Spring statement. Independent retailers are continuing to struggle, and it is vital that they receive adequate support from the government.”