In what has come as welcome news for independent retailers in a turbulent sea of negativity, the first Budget by new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak confirmed that retailers with a rateable value of £51,000 or below are to receive a business rates ‘holiday’ for 12 months.
Describing it himself as an “exceptional step” the Chancellor’s announcement has been very well received by those in the greeting card retail sector recognising that the decision will benefit thousands of indies.
“Hurrah – at last something which has real potential to help the high street,” exclaimed John Barratt, managing director of The Card Centre in Felixstowe. The good news comes less than six months after John wrote an extensive article in the Parliamentary Review publication (which was circulated to thousands of MPs, Ministers and business leaders) in which he shared his considered views on how the government needed to take some serious measures to safeguard and protect our high streets.
“There is a long way to go, but at least some of my pleas have been answered,” John told PG Buzz who has been contacted recently asking him to be interviewed by Lord Blunkett that will form the basis of a 40-minute podcast.
While delighted by the positive action by the government, for Stuart Delahoy, owner of Set Design in Leicester he just wishes the threshold was a little higher.
“I couldn’t quite believe it when I saw the £51,000 cut off as the rateable value of our shop is £51,500. For the sake of £500 I am looking at a bill of £26,368. We are putting in a rates appeal!” revealed Stuart. “I am however pleased for other retailers who will at least be able to benefit.”
“It’s very welcome news, considering all the extra unknown challenges that lie ahead in the near future due to the coronavirus,” said Pete Whiteman, co-owner of Dzo Dzo in Woodbridge of the business rates holiday. “Perhaps it will shape thinking on business rates for the future.”
Jo Georgiou, owner of The Ark in Stoke Newington believes the news will instil a “real sense of relief for many retailers especially at a time when we just do not know what will pan out.”
Adding her endorsement, Tabi Marsh, director of Papilio at Heritage, in Thornbury commented: “We absolutely welcome and appreciate his support for small businesses, and hope that the Chancellor’s wider review of business rates will make this a permanent move!”
The Chancellor has said the entire business rates system will not be reformed until later in the year.
The Chancellor’s Budget also included a £30bn emergency package to help the UK economy respond to coronavirus, announcing the outbreak will bring “significant impact” in the short term.
The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) was among the trade organisations that welcomed the Chancellor’s emergency package, with sick pay payments refunded to small retail businesses, with fewer than 250 staff, for up to 14 days absence for anyone suspected to have coronavirus.
Other measures to help small retail businesses included ‘business Interruption’ loans of up to £1.2 million, with companies eligible for small business rates relief allowed a £3,000 cash grant.
“We’re delighted to see that the Chancellor has listened to our concerns regarding the potential impact of Covid19,” stated Bira’s ceo Andrew Goodacre. “The retail discount being increased to 100%, the support with SSP and small business grants are all very welcome. However, we still have concerns for those retailers above the £51,000 threshold and believe that the threshold should be increased to include more smaller retailer businesses with less than 250 employees.”
Top: Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said retailers with a rateable value of £51,000 business rates for small businesses and announced an emergency package in response to coronavirus.