I have received this letter from Ministers regarding the proposed devolution of Sunday trading laws:
5 August 2015
Re: Sunday trading laws
In the Summer Budget the Government announced that it would be consulting on proposals to devolve powers on Sunday trading rules to a local level. I am pleased to announce that today we are launching the consultation document seeking views on the options for devolving these rules. This consultation presents an opportunity for you to get the views of your local community on Sunday opening hours.
The current Sunday trading rules were established over 20 years ago, but the consumer environment has changed enormously since then and high street shops are facing growing competition from the rise of online and mobile phone shopping. Internet sales now account for 11.5 per cent of all retail sales and have more than quadrupled since 2006. The current rules have not kept pace with these changes and stifle business’ efficiency and competitiveness, reducing consumer choice and also limiting the ability of our major cities to compete for international tourism.
Also, local high streets need to adapt and change in order to thrive in an internet age. Government has a wide package of policies to support high streets – from cuts in business rates for small shops to stopping over-zealous parking restrictions practices.
Local decision-makers, for example, elected metro mayors or local authorities, are accountable to their local communities and understand the wishes of their local citizens and the needs of local businesses. Devolving this power to local areas means that they can ensure that the rules reflect local preferences, shopping habits and economic conditions and will give them greater flexibility to make decisions for themselves. This means that local areas would have the discretion to zone which part of their local authority area would benefit from the longer hours, for example, allowing them to boost high streets. Extended hours may not be right for all communities and local decision makers are best placed to judge this.
The options set out in the consultation are as follows:
1) Devolving powers to local areas through ‘devolution deals’, for example, to elected metro mayors, so that they can determine the Sunday trading rules within their local area; and/or
2) Devolving powers to Local Authorities more generally across England and Wales.
There will be no changes to Sunday trading law in relation to Easter Sunday or Christmas Day.
As with the current rules, these proposals extend to England and Wales only, as the matter is devolved to Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The consultation document can be viewed on the .gov.uk website at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/devolving-sunday-trading-rules.
This consultation will give provide an opportunity to consider all relevant issues in more depth. As you would expect, the outcome of the consultation will help shape the final proposals.
Brandon Lewis MP
Minister of State for Housing and Planning
Rt Hon Anna Soubry MP
Minister of State for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise