At a meeting a few days ago (June 2) Small Business Minister Paul Scully gave his reassurance to the GCA’s ceo Amanda Fergusson that everything is progressing towards the June 21 date for an easing of restrictions, as well as how a ‘return to work’ plan is to be put in place to revitalise city centres.
These were just two of the agenda items of the meeting, which Amanda attended along with other members of the IRC (Independent Retailers Confederation).
“To have the ongoing engagement from such a key government Minister is very important to our industry,” said Amanda. “By joining forces with other members of the IRC we are able to represent the many common issues faced by different retail sectors.”
The meeting also saw a push from the IRC for an extension of the moratorium on commercial lease evictions, which is currently due to come to an end on July 1. This would allow landlords to evict their retailer tenants for non-payment of rent.
Amanda also led the discussion about how greater clarity was needed on the changes in export VAT rules that come into effect in July. (This is among the elements covered in the GCA Brexit blog on the association’s site https://www.gca.cards/brexit-updates-dec-2020/)
The meeting, the second in a series of what will become regular dialogues, was convened as the Minister was keen for feedback from the trade associations about business on the High Street since the reopening. “The levelling-off of trade after the initial activity on reopening was discussed which is when he reassured us that the government is still working towards June 21 for the easing of final lockdown restrictions,” said Amanda. “We also stressed the need for positive consumer messaging to support trade and encourage a full return to the High Street,” she added.
There was discussion about the paucity of trade in the City of London, with some retailers reporting sales of only one or two items a day, with many more now closed. Paul Scully, who is also Minister for London, confirmed that the government were meeting with the Mayor this week and also currently working on a “return to work” piece that would be shared after 21 June.
Through the IRC, the GCA is now involved in quarterly meetings with Paul Scully MP, secretary of state for small businesses. Issues raised by GCA members are added to the agenda for government response.
The meetings are hosted by the Indie Retail Confederation, a group of trade associations, including the GCA, who number independent retailers among their members. The IRC has met fortnightly since March 2020, working together to share information and support for retailers during this unprecedented time.
Retailers who would like more information on any of the issues raised, or have issues they’d like Amanda to raise at the next meeting with the Minister, should contact the GCA
Top: Great that the GCA has engagement with Govt through the IRC.