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Sunday trading laws to be devolved to councils

High streets and city centres are set to benefit from Government plans to devolve Sunday trading laws, business secretary Sajid Javid has announced.

New powers to devolve Sunday trading laws to local authorities will allow councils to "zone" any relaxation in a bid to drive footfall to struggling high streets by allowing them to open longer.

The initiative is part of a package of measures on Sunday trading that will be brought forward in the Enterprise Bill.

The powers will be devolved to unitary and district councils in England, county and county borough councils in Wales, and also to the Mayor of London. It is the intention that the power will be devolved to the Mayor of Greater Manchester when elected. Sunday trading rules are devolved to Scotland and Sunday opening is unrestricted there.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: 

"We want to see the benefits of economic growth being felt in every corner of the country. These new powers are about giving local areas the choice to extend Sunday trading hours to meet the needs of their local businesses and communities. It is local people who will make the decision."

The rise of online shopping has changed buying habits and the Government has said that Sunday Trading laws mean that high street stores have not been able to compete with online retailers. According to Government figures, online businesses accounted for 12.8% of all retail spending in December 2015, up from 2.4% in 2006.

The measures also include greater freedoms for shop workers in England, Scotland and Wales to opt out of working Sundays if they choose to, for example because they object on religious grounds or for family reasons.

"The rights of shop workers are key to making these changes work in everyone's interests," said Javid. "We are protecting those who do not wish to work Sundays, and those who do not want to work more than their normal Sunday working hours."

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