Westminster Business Forum

The UK retail sector and the future of the high street - costs and taxation, investment and planning, and policy priorities for the new parliament

TO BE PUBLISHED February 2020

This seminar will bring stakeholders together to discuss the future of UK retail and the high street.

As a new parliament begins its work, we expect discussion on options for reform in the areas such as business rates, the apprenticeship levy, and legislation to protect shop workers - as called for in the recent British Retail Consortium report, A Vision for the UK Retail Industry - and the potential practicalities and impact on the sector.

Overall, areas for discussion include:

  • Options for policy on costs and future funding, and for stakeholder collaboration;
  • The relationships between landlords and retailers, and trends in rent negotiation;
  • Innovative approaches to high street regeneration; and
  • The high street/online playing field.


  • Kelly Tolhurst, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility;
  • Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium; and
  • Steve Murrells, Chief Executive Officer, The Co-operative Group.

Further speakers include: Emily Berwyn, Meanwhile Foundation; Elizabeth Faulkner, Altrincham Unlimited; Dr Cathy Hart, Loughborough University; Mark Pilkington, formerly of Gossard; Simon Quin, High Street Task Force; Mark Robinson, Revo and Michael Weedon, Federation of Small Businesses.

The agenda

  • Key challenges for retailers: responding to rising costs, technology and changing shopping habits;
  • Collaboration needed between councils, businesses and communities to develop places and positioning high streets as community hubs;
  • Attracting business to the high street - the open door pilot, investment in historic buildings, and key issues for landlords;
  • Where next for retail: improving productivity, competitiveness and the impact of Brexit;
  • High street and online retail at a time of rising costs and political uncertainty - options for digital services taxation and business rates relief; and
  • Future policy for supporting local shops and high streets.

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

Shortly after every Westminster Business Forum seminar, a briefing document is produced. This is distributed to all delegates on the day as well as to our policymaker contacts in government, and to stakeholders more widely.

A seminar publication provides a timely record of proceedings, and acts as a guide to the latest thinking on current policy issues for those unable to be at the event.

This publication includes


Contributions from keynotes and panellists, including accompanying slides*
*Subject to approval

Delegate Pack

Information from the day, including delegate list, biographies and agenda


Transcript of questions and comments posed to speakers from attending delegates


Supplementary articles from speakers
and delegates