18 Mar 2020

New emergency funds welcomed – but must be available immediately

The Government's £350 billion bailout of the UK economy in response to coronavirus has been welcomed by Bira and BAGMA.

However, Andrew Goodacre, CEO of BAGMA's parent company Bira, says the funds must be made available immediately to stop the collapse of many small independent businesses already seeing reduced trade.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced the enhanced packaged of emergency measures last night. These include:

  • Business rates abolished for all retailers for 2020/21. (previously it was just for businesses below £51,000 rateable value.) It is worth approximately £7.9bn in savings for businesses
  • Cash grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 for smaller retailers (below £51,000 RV)
  • Further availability of business interruption loans

Andrew said: "We are pleased with these further announcements by the Government.

"Following on from the Budget, we stated that more support was needed for small retailers and the Government has now shown it was listening to Bira.

"The rates holiday for all retailers is worth approximately £7.9 billion and that is very welcome. The higher grants and business interruption loans will also help maintain cash flow.

"It is really important now that the details of how to apply for these grants is made available as soon as possible as we are already seeing the impact of the latest Government guidance with lower footfall and some businesses closing."

He added: "And even though all this is in the news, some members have informed us that local authorities are not helping and claiming not to know about this extra support. That situation must also be addressed to avoid confusion and frustration."

Bira is calling for the new latest rates relief measures to be extended to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, where the decision to do so is devolved.