The Department for Business has refused to respond to a Freedom of Information request on the consultation to devolve Sunday trading powers to local authorities, citing a ‘disproportionate level of disruption to the Department’s mainstream activities that would be caused in seeking to comply’.
The Freedom of Information request called on the government to release all of the responses to the consultation in an attempt to discover how many responses were in favour of retaining the existing rules. In a letter to Keep Sunday Special, the department confirmed that they have the information but will not release it.
A spokesperson from the Keep Sunday Special campaign said: “The Government is not being transparent. In five other consultation responses issued this year, the Department has given a full breakdown of responses, but for some reason they are unwilling to reveal this information on Sunday trading.
“The Government has failed to provide robust evidence for changes to Sunday trading regulations, reverting back to studies from a decade ago, and in some cases citing evidence from as long ago as 1970s Sweden.”
In its official response to the consultation, the Government claimed that “the majority of large and medium sized business respondents and local government respondents were in favour of devolving powers to extend Sunday trading hours”, which ignores the responses from thousands of concerned consumers and small businesses.
At the time of writing (March 7th), the Government have also still not produced any impact assessments or an assessment of the proposals under the family test. The proposals are due to be debated on Wednesday.