Bira (British Independent Retailers Association) and BRC (British Retail Consortium) have welcomed the latest package of measures announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week to help all retailers as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC said: “The Chancellor has acted swiftly to back retail businesses dealing with the unprecedented challenges created by coronavirus. He is to be congratulated for listening carefully to the concerns of retailers and has delivered a big, bold package of measures that will be a huge cashflow boost and will improve confidence for those affected.”
While recognising the Government may need to take further steps as the crisis evolves, Helen acknowledged: “Business rates are a huge burden for retailers at the best of times. The business rates holiday, together with the announcement of a loan package, represent a vital shot in the arm for a sector facing enormous uncertainty. We still need to see the details and make sure that retailers can access cash with the minimum of delay, but it is a welcome and necessary first step to protect jobs.”
Bira’s ceo Andrew Goodacre also said funds must be made available immediately to stop the collapse of many small independent retailers already seeing reduced trade.
The emergency package (announced on Tuesday evening) includes:
1. Business rates abolished for all retailers for 2020/21. (previously it was just for businesses below £51,000 rateable value.)
2. Cash grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 for smaller retailers (below £51,000 RV)
3. Further availability of business interruption loans
Andrew Goodacre said: “We are pleased with these further announcements by the Government.
“Following on from the Budget, we stated that more support was needed for small retailers and the Government has now shown it was listening to Bira.
“The rates holiday for all retailers is worth approximately £7.9 billion and that is very welcome. The higher grants and business interruption loans will also help maintain cash flow.
“It is really important now that the details of how to apply for these grants is made available as soon as possible as we are already seeing the impact of the latest Government guidance with lower footfall and some businesses closing.”
He added: “And even though all this is in the news, some members have informed us that local authorities are not helping and claiming not to know about this extra support. That situation must also be addressed to avoid confusion and frustration.”
Bira has also welcomed the Scottish Government’s move to abolish business rates for all retailers for 12 months in a bid to minimise the impact of coronavirus. The association is calling for the latest rates relief measures to be confirmed in Wales and Northern Ireland, where the decisions are also devolved. The Welsh Government confirmed that those with a rateable value of £51,000 or less would not pay business rates for 2020/21.
Top: Chancellor Rishi Sunak.