With Business Rates’ calculations a major bugbear for independent card and gift retailers, the news that bira, the British Independent Retailers Association has secured an audience with a host of MPs at House of Commons to launch its Business Rates Reform Plan next Tuesday (11 September) makes the retail trade association worthy of a few ‘thank you cards’ – and hopefully congratulations ones too if what it proposes comes into being.
The launch is the result of two years’ work by bira to remove the current rate relief cliff edge and get the relief to where the majority of small shops are situated. In a nutshell the proposal is that all small businesses with a rateable value of up to £51,001, the current definition of a larger business, should have an allowance of at least £8,075.
At least nine MPs will attend the launch, headed by Geoffrey Clifton Brown, Conservative MP for the Cotswolds.
“This could potentially be the most significant meeting in bira history,” said Kate Godber, senior communications and PR officer for bira. “With so many MPs attending, it is good to know that they are listening to the real concerns of the UK’s independent retailers.”
Sharing his views as an independent card and gift retailer, Chris Beards, owner of Mantons in Port Erin (a member of bira, GCA and Cardgains) told PG Buzz: “The opportunity of presenting a credible business rates reform proposal in the Houses of Parliament is another great example of how bira is constantly pushing the agenda for all independent retailers, greeting card indies included. The association recognises what the real retailing issues are and the importance of taking action to support independent retailers in order to give them a much better chance of surviving on the high street.”
Next week’s launch at the House of Commons comes after a meeting at Downing Street in August last year when bira met with Jimmy McLoughlin, a special advisor to Number 10. At this meeting, bira laid out the innovative thought that if there was an allowance not a cliff edge of £12,000 this would mean that smaller businesses would not be under constant pressure, but instead able to contribute extra productivity and profit to UK. In addition, it would mean that the Government could scrap all current and often short term reliefs that cost the treasury at least £2.6bn a year.
The meeting will certainly see bira’s ceo Alan Hawkins going out on a high as he retires at the end of this month after 33 years with the association. Alan is handing over to Andrew Goodacre, whose previous role was as ceo at the RLA (Residential Landlords Association), prior to which he held a senior position at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).