The announcement yesterday (March 2) that the furlough scheme is to be extended to September has put a spring in the step of those in the greeting card community. The next big item on the industry wishlist is for Chancellor Rishi Sunak to deliver on the business rates front in today’s Budget announcement (March 3).
An extension of the business rates holiday (which is due to come to finish at the end of this month) as well as a commitment to completely overhaul the rates system would certainly put a smile on the face of many greeting card retailers.
Stressing just how devastating it would be for many indies, at the end of last week, (Thursday February 25), Tabi Marsh, director of the award-winning card and gift shop Papilio at Heritage in Thornbury, near Bristol, told BBC News that if the Chancellor doesn’t extend the business rates holiday in his Budget today (March 3) – scheduled to end in April – then it could mean that, sadly, she and her father would have to close their shop.
Tabi told the BBC’s business reporter Lucy Hooker, in an article that appeared on the BBC News website, that it’s the business rates holiday, along with furlough for workers, help with VAT, and government-backed loans and grants, that have saved her business during the pandemic. But if the business rates holiday ends in April, then she would have to start paying some £13,000 again – over half of Papilio’s profits – with no guarantee that people are going to return to the high street to shop and socialise in the same way that they did before the pandemic.
“We’re not saying we shouldn’t be paying business rates ever,” she told the BBC. “But the way they’re calculated is ridiculous. It isn’t a fair playing field between the high street and online. If the Chancellor decides to extend the help “it would be a lifeline”, Tabi stated.
Her father, and co-director of the shop, was also interviewed on Radio 4’s Today programme last Friday (February 26) stressing the importance of rates reform.
Tabi’s interview took place before Scotland announced a 12 month extension to the business rates holiday, with Tabi adding: “that’s something that definitely makes me feel happy!
The GCA has joined with other business organisations, including Bira and The Booksellers Association to press the government for improvements on the business rates issue.
Top: Here’s hoping Rishi Sunak includes good news on the rates front in today’s Budget announcement.