Latest news from Bira

15 Jan 2021

Five-point plan to save indie retail sector gets Bira's support

Bira is backing a new five-point plan to help the independent retail sector through the pandemic.

Pivot Point Consultancy has put together the plan and sent it to Kwasi Kwarteng at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategey (BEIS) and other relevant Ministers.

It outlines the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the independent retail sector and demands action.

In summary, the report calls for:

  • Targeted financial assistance: The money returned to the government by larger
    retailers (already more than £2 billion) should be placed in an Independents’
    Assistance Fund which can be deployed quickly and in focused ways to help
    independent businesses weather the storm of the pandemic.
  • Immediate review and reduction of rates: Business rates have been a
    long-standing point of dispute but the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the problem
    into stark relief. Many businesses, from independents to chains, are simply unable to
    sustain current levels of rates and deploying some of the Independents’ Assistance
    Fund to mitigate rates would provide an instant boost for struggling businesses.
  • Help with rent arrears: One of the most effective weapons government has to
    combat financial strictures is its ability to support short- and medium-term debt. We
    are not asking for anything for free. But if there were a government scheme which
    could pay rent to landlords immediately while deferring collection from tenants, this
    would relieve severe cashflow pressure while maintaining cash in the economy.
  • Future-proofing premises and grants: Instead of providing small parcels of money
    on a one-size-fits-all basis, the Government should operate a scheme whereby
    businesses can apply for grants to put in place measures to make their premises
    Covid-safe. This would allow them to remain open and trading where possible, and
    would also provide insurance against future restrictions.
  • Improved consultation between independent businesses and government: Too
    often we feel that decisions affecting local businesses, such as on city centre
    pedestrianisation, are taken without consultation and in ignorance of the rich data
    which businesses can provide. There should be local forums in which representatives
    of business, local government, central government and other interested parties can
    discuss and review new policies, and local authorities must have a statutory duty to
    participate and reflect the outcomes.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira CEO, said: "Absolutely agree with this report. It says everything Bira has been saying to the Government for the last 10 months.

"We know the Ministers are listening and now we need action."

Read the full report here


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