BIRA calls for coronavirus fund for indie retailers

British Independent Retailers Association makes case for emergency fund to support retailers hit by the contagion and to support employees forced into self isolation

Written by Rhys Thomas

Posted 06.03.2020 | Retail

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The British Independent Retailers Association has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to take “immediate action” in helping independent retailers affected by the coronavirus outbreak.  

An emergency business fund from the Treasury would be used to support smaller retailers who will be hit by the contagion and are already struggling against business rates and falling footfall.

The plea is part of Bira’s statement to the Chancellor ahead of next Wednesday’s Budget.

Three key points include an immediate increase in business rates discount to 75 per cent – alongside extending the concession to more businesses; tax holidays to increase cash flow in the form of reduced VAT; and financial support to retailers dealing with employees who are required to self isolate.

Andrew Goodacre, the Bira chief executive, says the high street needs “immediate action to support the economy”.

“We have all seen images from towns and cities in Europe that show deserted high streets and empty shops,” he adds. “The Budget needs to support the economy and we must ensure that the high street receives some of that support.”

Reform of Digital Services Tax will also help struggling retailers, the statement says, forcing online businesses to contribute more to the overall costs of Britain’s businesses. Bira says too much of the burden is being shouldered by the high street, even as sales and profits diminish at an alarming rate.

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