Independent retailers are being driven off high streets around the UK warned the British Shops and Stores Association today.

Speaking at the launch of its 'Health of the High Street' report BSSA chief executive John Dean called on central government to do three things to help independent stores survive on UK high streets:

-Review the formula for the setting of the national minimum wage and make the process more transparent.

-Raise the threshold at which small businesses get rate relief from companies with a rateable value of £10,000 to £20,000.

-Scrap the proposal to introduce a supplementary business rate.

'There is no room for the gifted amateur on the high street nowadays. It's a highly professional and cut throat business to be involved in,' said Dean. The BSSA represents 4,000 non-food independent shops and stores.

Minimum wage
He said to help independent retailers and high streets prosper the process for setting the national minimum wage should be reviewed because it has been rising at above inflation to a level that independent retailers now find difficult to afford.

'There is no doubt that the setting of the national minimum wage is a black art that's only known to the Low Pay Commission,' said Dean. He also called on local authorities to introduce regional retail strategies so when planners make decisions they can address what the local communities want, and suggested that large retailers should provide business advice to smaller retailers.