Banks still failing small retail businesses, says Bira

Coronavirus hub - Bank Support

High street lenders are failing to ‘rise to the challenge’ of supporting small retail businesses during the Covid-19 crisis, according to Bira.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said new government figures revealing that only 1.4% of applications for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme had been successful were ‘no surprise’.

The figures have been released almost three weeks after Chancellor Rishi Sunak launched the scheme to help small and medium-sized businesses with loans and other financing of up to £5m each. However, so far just 4,200 of the estimated 300,000 firms that sought help have received rescue loans.

Tens of thousands of firms are understood to have made formal applications but only a fraction have been given the go-ahead.

Earlier this month, an exclusive Bira members’ survey revealed only 1% of members who had applied for a CBILS had been successful, with many other frustrated by lengthy waiting times and hurdles to navigate.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said: “The stats at the weekend come as no surprise to Bira. We asked our members a few weeks ago and only 1% of members had had success with CBILS.

“The banks will claim a lack of people, change in processes and high demand as reasons for the low numbers of business benefitting.

“The truth of the matter is the banks did not rise to the challenge in the first instance and are now on the back foot.

“The Government has to realise that none of the support schemes (grants, loans) are helping the vast majority of businesses as yet, and with no cash coming into the business, these businesses will fold and not re-open.”

For all the latest updates, visit Bira’s Coronavirus hub
Coronavirus hub

Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival postponed

Seasonal retail calendar for giftware buyers | Bira Direct

The Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival has been postponed until next year, it has been announced. 

 The 2020 edition of Home & Gift will now take place in Harrogate on July, 18-21, 2021, due to the continuing Covid-19 crisis.

Show director Kelly Grant said: “It is with a heavy heart that we announce the postponement of Home & Gift for the first time in its 60-year history.

“Our absolute priority is to safeguard the health and welfare of all those and this postponement is a necessity, given both the material and ongoing disruption caused by the current pandemic and the latest public health and government directions.”

The 2021 edition, will now celebrate the 60th anniversary of Home & Gift and will be a special opportunity for the community to come together.

The show will combine all the features planned for this year, including the 60th anniversary party, plus the 2021 edition’s enhanced ShopTalk speaker programme, new sectors and more key brands and buyers.

To keep the industry connected over the coming months, Home & Gift will continue to provide the giftware community with virtual product launches, regular blog updates that include brand stories and expert advice.

Kelly added: “We would like to thank you for your understanding of this difficult decision in unprecedented times and for your support through these unique and unquestionably challenging circumstances. It is your passion and goodwill that has shaped our event over the years, and will continue to do so.”

Letter from the Secretary of State, Alok Sharma, to those working in retail

Bira co-signs letter to the Government asking for action to prevent retail violence

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, addresses all those in the retail sector to offer thanks to those who are working during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

In the letter, addressed to ‘everyone working in the retail sector‘, Alok Sharma says “I know that these are challenging and uncertain times, in particular for retail businesses and staff across the country. Many shops remain closed as part of the national effort to fight coronavirus. I understand how hard that must be for those who run and work for those businesses and I want to thank you all for following the Government’s direction” and goes on to say “I would like to convey my heartfelt and personal thanks for everything that you are doing to support our joint national effort.

Click below to read the full letter or find out more about the information and advice available for retailers in relation to the coronavirus pandemic, here.

Click here to read the full letter


View the Coronavirus Hub

Access our hub containing the latest information and advice for members and the wider independent retail sector
Coronavirus Hub



Bira fight ‘anomaly’ in government grant funding

Coronavirus guidance for small businesses

Bira is highlighting an ‘anomaly’ in government grant funding meaning small independent retailers could be missing out on £15,000 Covid-19 cash.

According to real estate advisory firm Altus Group almost 3,700 small shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants could miss out on the money.

An early payment of business rates totalling around £3.4 billion was made to councils last week to ensure that grants of up to £25,000 would get to businesses as soon as possible to help weather the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Businesses with a rateable value of more than £15,000 will be eligible for the full £25,000 grant.

Meanwhile, retailers with a value of £15,000 or less will only be eligible for £10,000 grants.

The Government introduced the threshold as retailers valued below £15,000 had previously been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR).

However, this relief was tapered between £12,001 and £15,000, meaning that firms with a rateable value of £12,001 would have their rates reduced by 100 per cent, with the size of the cut reducing until those with a £15,000 valuation receive a zero per cent cut.

Altus Group said this meant there were thousands of companies with a valuation of exactly £15,000, which have previously received no small business rates relief, but will now be ineligible for the £25,000 grants.

It said government figures reveal 3657 high street business will only be able to receive £10,000 grants despite not receiving the previous benefit of small business rates relief. If these firms were to have their valuations just £1 higher, they would be able to receive a further £15,000 each, totalling £55 million for all firms.

Bira’s CEO Andrew Goodacre: “This anomaly highlights the unfair way in which the grant allocation system has been designed.

“I have already spoken to members for whom this anomaly applies and they will, therefore, miss out on a substantial amount of money when they need it most.

“We would like to hear from any business affected by this as we will be highlighting the matter to the Government and fighting for a fairer scheme.”

Will you miss out because of this scheme? Call our membership team on 0800 028 0245 or email

For all the latest updates, visit Bira’s Coronavirus hub
Coronavirus hub


Emergency bank loans will be easier to recieve, says Chancellor

Coronavirus hub - Bank Support

Bira is backing today’s Government announcement that Covid-19 bank loans will be easier to apply for and receive.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said there will be changes to proposed government assistance measures, after the banks were criticised making it too difficult for businesses seeking help.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) will be easier to apply for and receive. The Government said more than 130,000 applications had been received, but only 1,000 had so far been paid out.

Previously, small businesses applying for the scheme needed to have been refused a commercial loan. This restriction has now been lifted so all businesses can apply for the government loans.

Banks will also be banned from asking company owners to guarantee loans with their own savings or property when borrowing up to £250,000.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said: “We welcome the Government’s renewed efforts to make the pledged bank loans more accessible for small independent retailers when they need them most.

“I hope we now see the cash fast-tracked to the retailers and a significant increase in the number of accepted – and actioned – applications.”

At the start of this week, Bira conducted a members’ survey which revealed only 1% of respondents who’d applied for CBILS had so far been successful.”

Andrew added: “After the results of our survey we appealed to the Government to put pressure on the banks to make lending more straightforward. This move shows that they have listened to Bira.”

Have your voice heard: Bira has launched a special deal offering three months free membership to support independent retailers through the Covid-19 crisis. Find out more here 

For all the latest updates, visit Bira’s Coronavirus hub
Coronavirus hub


Free membership deal to help independent retailers through Covid-19

Employment and lay-offs advice amongst the Coronavirus outbreak

Bira is offering a free membership package to help businesses through the Covid-19 crisis.

Independent retailers who sign up for the Coronavirus Membership Package can gain complimentary access to Bira member benefits for three months, in return for a nominal donation of £1, £5 or £10 to the Rainy Day Trust.

The deal, available until Tuesday, June 30, 2020, will support the independent retail community through the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.

New members will be able to access:

  • Unlimited legal advice on employment law, HR, Health & Safety and more
  • Three months free e-commerce facility EKM to sell online
  • Quickly reduce utility bills
  • Quick access Bira’s buying group with special terms and offers
  • Access employment resources via online portal
  • Access to the membership email and phone line

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said: “Bira has always offered great support to its members by offering quality and unique services.

“In these unprecedented times we are keen to help independent retailers in general by keeping them up-to-date with the latest information. We cannot offer the full range of services but hopefully we provide sufficient support when people need it most.”

Sign up for our free three month Coronavirus Support Package here 

For all the latest updates, visit Bira’s Coronavirus hub
Coronavirus hub

Bira welcomes Government pledge to pressure banks into making Covid-19 cash accessible

Job retention

The Government’s pledge to pressure the banks to ease up lending to small businesses has been welcomed by Bira. 

Last night (April 1), Business Secretary Alok Sharma called on high street lenders to ease access to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CBILS) for small independent retailers during the crisis.

His intervention comes following reports from some businesses – including many Bira members – that their banks were making it increasingly difficult to access the recently created loan scheme.

Earlier this week, an exclusive Bira members’ survey revealed that of those who’d applied for the CBILS, only 1% had so far been successful, while many were still waiting for a response.

Mr Sharma has also urged local authorities to speed up the availability of grant money for small businesses.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said: “We were shocked and disappointed that so few of our members had been able to access the money available to them when they are so desperately in need.

“We called on the Government to take action and in Business Secretary’s statement, it shows they are listening to Bira.

“We will continue to lobby the Government, the banks and the local authorities to make pledged cash quickly and easily available for our members and the wider independent retail community.”

For all the latest updates, visit Bira’s Coronavirus hub
Coronavirus hub

Scottish politicians ‘moving proverbial goalposts’ in allocation of Covid-19 grants, says Bira

rates scotland

The Scottish Government is ‘moving proverbial goalposts’ in allocation of the coronavirus support grants, says Bira.

Bira has added its voice to a growing number of trade groups lobbying Scottish parliament over restrictions to the pledged £25,000 grants.

The trade groups, which includes the Scottish Retail Consortium, has written to Finance Secretary Kate Forbes MSP asking for clarification about the small businesses eligible for the funds.

Since the £2.2 billion package was announced, promising grants for each ‘property’, a number of firms have reported that those with more than one property (a small chain of shops, for example) are only eligible for one single £25,000 payment.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said: “We are increasingly concerned that the proverbial goalposts are being moved.

“Bold statements are made by politicians, but the reality is disappointingly somewhat different. We are now seeing confusion in Scotland and England and that is the last thing independent businesses need.

“It is obvious that all businesses need support and should be treated individually even if they are part of a group.”

For more information of the support available to small retail businesses in Scotland, click here

Coronavirus: Access our hub containing the latest information and advice for members and the wider independent retail sector.
Coronavirus hub

Members’ survey: ‘Banks are failing independent retailers in Covid-19 crisis’


High street banks are failing to support small independent retailers in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, a new members’ survey by the Bira has revealed.

Bira asked its members three key questions about the support they’ve received following the outbreak of coronavirus – and the results show a large majority are getting little or no help.

Almost two thirds (64.5%) said they would not benefit from the self-employed income protection announced on March 26. Many members said they would not qualify because they pay themselves in dividends, while others admitted they were confused over how it was claimed.

One member said: “We haven’t had enough profit in the last three years as we are just about ticking over in a job I love.”

Secondly, Bira asked members whether they’d received a Business Support Grant from their local authority to which 91% said they had not. Despite Bira lobbying for local authorities to be more forthcoming about the support grants, the majority of members said they’d had no communication.

One respondent said: “I’ve been in touch with local authority but they do not have a timescale for the initial letter notification going out.”

High street banks also came under fire in the survey with only 1% of the members who have applied for a business interruption loan being successful so far. Almost 20 per cent of members surveyed have approached their lender for help – with many still waiting for a response.

One member said: “I was advised an overdraft would be better suited for my needs with an arrangement fee of £150 and more than 6% interest.”

Another said: “Had a rather lengthy discussion that was very downbeat and obstructive even though they hold security on my mortgage-free business premises.”

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said: “It is clear that the well-intended Government initiatives are not reaching the retailers that need the support.
“I do not understand why it is taking so long to award the grants. The self-employed income protection scheme will only help a quarter of retailers.

“The high street banks are simply not willing to help and should hang their heads in shame. Independent retailers have no money coming in, have had low margins and low profits for many years and need more support than is currently available – otherwise many of these businesses will not re-open when the situation returns back to normal.”

  • Bira asked 300 members the following questions:
    Will you be able to benefit from the self-employed income protection announced on March 26? 27% yes; 64.51% no.
    Have you received a Business Support Grant from your local authority? 6.08%; yes 91.22% no Have you spoken to your bank about a business interruption loan? 18.77% yes; 80.89% no
    And if yes, was your application successful? 1.43% yes; the rest of the respondents were either ‘no’, ‘pending communication’, or the process had proved too difficult.

Coronavirus: Access our hub containing the latest information and advice for members and the wider independent retail sector.
Coronavirus hub

L. G. Harris & Co. Ltd temporarily closes Bromsgrove Factory

LG Harris

Due to the current Covid-19 virus, L.G. Harris & Co. Ltd. is to temporarily close its factory on Hanbury Road, Stoke Prior to protect its 280 strong work force.

The closure is effective immediately and this will be reviewed in line with Government guidelines on a daily basis.

Some L.G. Harris employees will continue to work from home where possible and our Chinese facility will continue to operate for FOB customers. The company will be utilising the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme so that it can support employees whose roles make working from home impractical.  All affected members of staff will be consulted regarding classification as furloughed workers, in order to avoid layoffs.

Managing Director for L.G. Harris & Co. Ltd, Chris Wood said, “Since the onset of this crisis, the company has been adhering to Government and public health guidelines, but it is now felt that we should temporarily shut the Bromsgrove site, something that has not happened since World War 2.  Clearly, closing the factory, even temporarily, is not what anyone would ordinarily wish to do, but the health and safety of the workforce is paramount; and this is the best way to protect them in these difficult circumstances.

We will be contacting all customers and suppliers individually to agree appropriate arrangements during the affected period.”

Bira members can contact LG Harris directly for further information. Click here to view the LG Harris online supplier directory for direct contact details

Denby ceases production operations until further notice

Denby pottery sustainable kitchenware.

Over the past week Denby has followed Government advice to move employees to home working where possible, close retail stores and is now in the process of temporarily closing down our manufacturing operations so that by Friday 27th March we will have ceased production operations until further notice.

A small business continuity team of employees in key areas will continue to run essential business tasks and to enable us to plan to restart business as quickly and effectively as possible when the pandemic is over. 

As a consequence, there will be a significant amount of disruption to “normal” business practices.  We will not be able to accept delivery of any goods for the foreseeable future unless under exceptional circumstances where prior written agreement is given. Delivery of goods will be reconfirmed once the business is fully operational again. 

Provision of services will inevitably be disrupted, and services may need to be deferred during this period.   We will work with all suppliers as best we can with reduced resource to ensure that we fulfil our obligations as quickly as we can in these extreme circumstances.

If you have any queries, please email your usual contact.  If that person is not working, you will receive an out of office response with the details of the appropriate member of the Business Continuity team to contact.   

We want to thank you for your patience and continued support during this very challenging period. 

Bira members can view direct contact details for Denby on the Denby Bira Direct Supplier page. 

Measures to help the self-employed through Covid-19 crisis – what we know

Budget 2020

The Government last night (March 26) announced a scheme to support the UK’s self-employed affected by the coronavirus outbreak. 

So far this is what we know about the package: 

  • Direct cash grant of 80% of profits, up to £2,500 per month for at least three months 

Those eligible for the new scheme will be able to apply directly to HMRC for the taxable grant, using an online form, with the cash being paid directly into people’s bank account. 

To qualify for the scheme:  

  • There must be a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19 or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. 
  • More than half of the income in these periods must come from self-employment. 
  • To minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment and meet the above conditions will be eligible to apply. HMRC will identify eligible taxpayers and contact them directly with guidance on how to apply. 

The grant will cover the three months to May. Grants will be paid in a single lump sum instalment covering all three months and will start to be paid at the beginning of June. 

Individuals should not contact HMRC now. HMRC will use existing information to check potential eligibility and invite applications once the scheme is operational. 

Those who pay themselves a salary and dividends through their own company are not covered by the scheme but will be covered for their salary by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if they are operating PAYE schemes. 

For more details click here

Coronavirus: Access our hub containing the latest information and advice for members and the wider independent retail sector.
Coronavirus hub

Contactless limit increases to £45 from April 1

Accept payments on the go with Global Payments Mobile Pay

The spending limit for contactless card payments will be increased from £30 to £45, with a national roll-out beginning from April 1, 2020.

The decision to raise the limit was taken following consultation between the retail sector and the finance and payments industry and follows similar increases in several other European countries over the past week.

Visa, MasterCard and Amex have issued supporting mandates.

Although initially conceived to aid the current Covid-19 situation, this will represent a permanent change to the contactless limit.

Members who rent their terminals from Global Payments will have their terminal updated automatically. This will be done as part of the usual monthly update call that each terminal performs which are even spread throughout the month.

Global Payments customers who wish to update their own machines from April 1, 2020, can do so following these instructions.

Members who use their own equipment should contact their supplier for more details.

Jeff Moody, Bira’s Commercial Director said: “The transaction limit has at long last been increased to £45, a move Bira has fought for alongside others on the Payment Advisory Group.”

Coronavirus: Access our hub containing the latest information and advice for members and the wider independent retail sector.
Coronavirus hub

Concern as ‘many members may not benefit from rescue package for self-employed’, says Bira

The right way to deal with grievances

Bira has welcomed tonight’s rescue plan for the self-employed – but has raised concerns that many members still won’t benefit.

Tonight, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak unveiled a package of support for self-employed people unable to work following the outbreak of coronavirus Covid-19.

The bumper package will see self-employed workers paid up 80% of lost wages by the Government, capped at £50,000.

However, as Bira’s CEO Andrew Goodacre explains, some members will still be left to struggle because of certain exemptions to the package.

“I welcome the fact that the Chancellor is committed to providing direct financial support to self-employed retailers,” he said.

“However, many of our members are not sole traders and so a grant based on profit may not work for them as our members might pay themselves a dividend, which is excluded.

“We need to understand the detail on this one – as with all the other announcements.”

Bira is calling for more transparency and detail over the financial support packages announced in the last fortnight and will continue to fight for the best deal for small independent retailers.

Measures Bira has already successfully campaigned for include: the reduction and subsequent removal of business rates; provision of grants from local authorities; support for employees through the employee protection grant; hardware/DIY stores and health food stores identified as essential services so allowed to continue trade during UK lock-down

Coronavirus: Access our hub containing the latest information and advice for members and the wider independent retail sector.
Coronavirus hub

Utility Options waives termination fees and minimum required contract lengths

Customer Satisfaction Survey

Business continuity is a pressing issue for many Bira members, especially when it comes to communications.

Your telecoms provider should be able to apply a temporary divert on your phone line(s), but if you need anything more complicated, or are trying to replicate multiple lines/extensions, then Utility Options’ internet telephony products could help.

Utility Options can set up temporary telephone numbers and cloud-based extensions in minutes, which can be accessed from smartphones, tablets, PCs, Macs and laptops, as well as dedicated phone hardware, at any location that has an internet connection.

They can emulate all of the major business phone system functions, including Ring Groups, Direct Dial, Voicemail, Digital Receptionist etc, all in the cloud at the click of a mouse button.

To help businesses in these unprecedented times, Utility Options are pleased to announce that we are waiving termination fees for the foreseeable future, and are offering services with no minimum contract length.

If you need a telecoms solution for remote working, get in touch, as we have a range of options available for every different scenario.

Utility Options



View the Coronavirus Hub

Access our hub containing the latest information and advice for members and the wider independent retail sector
Coronavirus Hub


Bira members warned over Covid-19 scam text

Customer Satisfaction Survey

Bira members are being warned about a scam text being sent to phones threatening a Government fine for breaching the current UK lock-down.

The text looks like it’s a legitimate message from the UK Government warning people they are being fined £30 for leaving their property multiple times a day. However, it has been confirmed as a scam.

It comes after Boris Johnson ordered people to stay at home to help stem the spread of the coronavirus. Under the curbs on movement, Brits have been instructed to leave home only for very limited reasons, including going to supermarkets for vital supplies or for exercise once a day.

The post contains an image showing two text messages apparently from the sender ‘UK_GOV’ reading:

“GOV.UK CORONAVIRUS ALERT  New rules in force now: you must stay at home. More info & exemptions at  Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.” 

“You have been outside of your house 3 times today, you are in breach of government guidelines. Your £30 fine will be added to your bill.”

The Government said in a statement on March 24 that a text identical to the first would be sent to all members of the public with a registered phone number.

The Prime Minister’s office confirmed that only one text message had been sent, and that any others claiming to be from the Government were fake. View the Government message here.

When the lock-down was announced, the Government said that those who do not comply with the rules may received a £30 fine, however these would be spot fines from police, not fines delivered by text.

Coronavirus: Access our hub containing the latest information and advice for members and the wider independent retail sector.
Coronavirus hub




More must be done to support independent retailers through Covid-19 crisis, says Bira

Budget 2020

Bira is stepping up its efforts to get the best deal for its members during the coronavirus crisis.

Bira has already successfully lobbied for extra support for independent retailers following the outbreak of Covid-19. However, CEO Andrew Goodacre says more must be done to protect businesses from collapse.

Some of the measures Bira would like to see implemented include:

  • Financial support for self-employed people who have had to stop working
  • Government intervention allowing independent retailers to claim on their insurance policy for business interruption
  • Improved guidance for banks lending under the new business interruption loan scheme
  • Extra support for landlords so they are able to work with their tenants when businesses have been closed

Andrew said: “We would like to see direct financial support to the self-employed independent retailers who have had to close their business.

“Our members were delighted to see support for their employees, but how do they cope with no income? I think a similar scheme to the employee protection scheme (80% of income covered) would be appropriate.”

Measures Bira has already successfully campaigned for include: the reduction and subsequent removal of business rates; provision of grants from local authorities; support for employees through the employee protection grant; hardware/DIY stores and health food stores identified as essential services so allowed to continue trade during UK lock-down

Coronavirus: Access our hub containing the latest information and advice for members and the wider independent retail sector.
Coronavirus hub

New coronavirus hub launched

manage workforce

Bira has launched a dedicated coronavirus hub to guide members and the wider retail community through the crisis.

The online resource is a one-stop shop featuring a wealth of information and advice. It is being updated every day, throughout the day.

Information on the hub includes:

There are also guides to wellbeing, as well inspirational stories of what members are doing to adapt to the current situation.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said: “Everyone at Bira has been working hard to ensure that our members and the wider retail community receive the support they need at this time.

“Our focus has been to provide accurate guidance based on information we have received for the various government departments. The dedicated hub on our website will updated on a regular basis.”

Coronavirus: Access our hub containing the latest information and advice for members and the wider independent retail sector.
Coronavirus hub

Bira members in Scotland can now access emergency funding

rates scotland

Bira members in Scotland can now apply for £1 billion-worth of grants to help them deal with the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The one-off grants are designed to help protect jobs, prevent business closures and promote economic recovery, and more than 90,000 ratepayers across Scotland will be able to benefit.

The grant support is additional to separate tax relief measures and is part of a package of measures worth £2.2 billion.

Small businesses in receipt of the small business bonus scheme or rural relief, as well as hospitality, leisure and retail business can benefit.

Two types of grant are now available to ratepayers:

• a one-off £10,000 grant to ratepayers of small businesses

• a one-off grant of £25,000 available to retail, hospitality and leisure business ratepayers with a rateable value between £18,001 and £50,999

The list is not exhaustive and if businesses think they may be eligible for one of these grants, they should contact their local authority, which are administering the scheme on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Cabinet Secretary for Finance Kate Forbes said:  “While our primary concern is for people’s health, it is clear that the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak will have severe economic consequences, and we are treating it as an economic emergency.

“We are determined to help keep companies in business and support them and their staff during this difficult time.

“Local authorities are the most efficient way to deliver this and we have worked closely with them to deliver these measures – and eligible businesses can apply now.

“Local authorities will aim to make payments within 10 working days, and I’d like to thank them for their help in ensuring this support is delivered as quickly as possible.

“The COVID-19 situation, however, is both severe and fast-moving and requires a coordinated UK response: I will continue to work closely with the UK Government and the other devolved administrations.”

Bira’s CEO Andrew Goodacre said: “We are pleased that the Scottish Government has listened to Bira’s plea for immediate support for small independent retailers in the country.”

Coronavirus: Access our hub containing the latest information and advice for members and the wider independent retail sector.
Coronavirus hub

Shops allowed to continue trade under new lock-down measures

Are you ready to change in 2018?

Businesses allowed to reopen – and those which must stay shut – updated 19.05.2020

Guidance on the closure of all retailers that sell non-essential goods and other non-essential premises, as part of further social distancing measures has been updated to include additional details to the list of businesses and premises that must remain closed. Guidance has also been added on work carried out in people’s homes. The guidance is available here.

Employers who have people in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidelines including, where possible, maintaining a 2 metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).

Shops up and down the country are being forced to shut their doors following last night’s Government-imposed lockdown in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Boris Johnson last night (March 23) announced that Brits will only be able to shop for essential items such as food, and all non-essential traders and services must close for the at least three weeks.

The list of shops and services allowed to continue trade are:

  • Supermarkets
  • Pharmacies
  • Vets
  • Newsagents
  • Pet shops
  • Retail shops in hospitals
  • Petrol stations
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • Hardware shops and equipment, plant and tool hire
  • Agricultural supplies shops
  • Undertakers
  • Banks
  • Bicycle shops
  • Post Offices
  • Health food stores
  • Off licences and licensed shops selling alcohol, including those within breweries

Coronavirus: Access our hub containing the latest information and advice for members and the wider independent retail sector.
Coronavirus hub

Important notice to Bira members regarding the use of Bira Direct

Bira Direct Coronavirus response

Following the latest Government announcement on the 23rd March 2020, all non-essential retail shops will be closed – Hardware stores are still allowed to open but we realise the high street will be much quieter in general – Bira Direct has had to take the difficult decision to suspend the invoicing facility through the Buying Group to protect the interests of our total membership.

This means we will be unable to accept any orders for Credit Purchases with immediate effect.

We are still able to offer members the opportunity to place orders with suppliers on a pro-forma basis – for this to happen please contact

Once payment has been received by Bira Direct from yourself the Supplier will get an authorization code to release the order for delivery to you.

I am sure you will understand that this decision has not been taken lightly and we are doing it to protect the long term interests of all Bira members and we will keep you regularly updated.

To keep updated with Bira’s response and for the latest Government advice regarding  Coronavirus please visit the Coronavirus hub below
Coronavirus Hub

Support needed for independent retailers forced to shut in UK-lockdown, says Bira

Coronavirus guidance. Support in the lockdown

Bira is calling for immediate access to financial support for the small business owners effected by the Government-imposed lock-down of the country.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said small independent retailers affected by the new shut-down measures need ‘details and transparency’ when it comes to accessing the support available to them.

Tonight (Monday, March 23), Boris Johnson announced a UK-wide lockdown including the closure of all non-essential shops in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus. Under the new measures, Brits will only be able to travel out for essential goods, medical needs, and brief exercise.

Shops which will be allowed to remain open are: supermarkets, pet stores, hardware stores, pharmacies, newsagents, banks, health food stores and post offices.

Speaking after the measures were announced, Andrew said: ““We understand the need to protect customers and employees from Covid19 and so more shop closures were inevitable.

“We have already seen many members make the decision before being told to do so. The list of those shops that can stay open is a logical list.

“It is now even more important for the details of the various support packages to be made available in detail and with transparency. We are still hearing about local authorities claiming not to know about the grants and the there is limited information on the employment protection grant.

“We note that closed shops can still trade online and deliver products, and Bira will be helping members adjust their business model.”

Coronavirus: Access our hub containing the latest information and advice for members and the wider independent retail sector.
Coronavirus hub

Bira calls for ‘speed and simplicity’ in claiming latest coronavirus crisis support

SME Savings Banner

The Government’s latest raft of emergency measures to save jobs and businesses amidst the coronavirus crisis is being backed by Bira.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, has called for “speed and simplicity” in how these financial support packages are made available.

Tonight (Friday, March 20), Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a new scheme of measures to protect workers. They include:

  • Coverage for 80% of salaries up to £2,500 a month
  •  VAT bills deferred for the next quarter – worth £30billion
  •  £7bn boost to the welfare system
  •  Extra protection for those in rented properties

Andrew said: “We welcome the grants being made available to support salary payments to keep people in work.

“We also welcome the more generous terms for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the deferral of the next VAT payments.

“It is absolutely vital that the guidelines on how to access these all-important grants are made available as soon as possible, with clear instructions on how businesses can access these much-needed funds.

“Speed and simplicity will be of the essence of this if we are to protect as many businesses and employees as possible.”

For all the latest updates and guidance on coronavirus and the measures in place to help you, click here

Coronavirus Hub

Launch of Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme brought forward

The launch of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) has been brought forward.

At the Budget on March 11, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced that the scheme would be available ‘over the coming weeks’.

This has now been brought forward and the launch is expected in week commencing March 23 2020.

As well as loans, there are many other types of finance supported by the programme, depending on the provider.

Bira has been urging the Government to make desperately-needed support for small independent retailers available more quickly.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said: “We are pleased the Government has listened to Bira’s plea for urgent financial support for our members and the wider independent retail community.”

For more details click here

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Business Readiness Bulletin – Issue 4

coronavirus readiness

This business readiness bulletin for trade associations, business representative bodies and business intermediaries provides important information for you and your business members and networks on Coronavirus (COVID-19). We suggest that organisations providing advice to business continue to ensure that the latest GOV.UK information is available on their websites to support members and networks.

Specific information is available for businesses, who should read and follow the online guidance for employees, employers and businesses. Specific information for businesses in Wales and Scotland is also available. These pages are updated regularly. If you have a query that isn’t covered by this guidance you can contact the Business Support Helpline on 0300 456 3565

1. Business Support announced by the Chancellor

On 17th March, the Chancellor announced unprecedented support for business and workers – to support the economy and businesses large and small. You can find his full speech here.

The package of government-backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses, making available an initial £330bn of guarantees – equivalent to 15% of GDP. That support will be delivered through two main schemes:

  • To support liquidity amongst larger firms, a new lending facility with the Governor of the Bank of England to provide low cost, commercial paper.
  • To support lending to small and medium sized businesses, extending the new Business Interruption Loan Scheme announced at the Budget.

The Chancellor also announces tax cuts of nearly £20bn for British businesses.

The measures provide a comprehensive, coordinated and coherent response to what is a serious and evolving economic situation. As the wider economic picture becomes clearer, the government will do whatever it takes to get our nation through the impacts of COVID-19 and stand ready to announce further action wherever necessary.

2. Business Support Measures in Detail

We will keep you up to date with the latest information on how businesses can access support as further details become available.

Business Rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure

  • All businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will pay no business rates in England for 12 months from 1 April 2020.
  • There will be no rateable value threshold on this relief – businesses large and small will benefit.
  • Guidance for local authorities on the application of the holiday has been published. Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to the relevant local authority.

Small Business Grant Scheme

  • The government will provide additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates.
  • This funding will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for small business rate relief (SBBR) or rural rate relief.
  • A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
  • If your business is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, you will be contacted by your Local Authority – you do not need to apply.
  • The Business Secretary will write to all Local Authorities by the end of the week with information on this scheme, and to encourage them to prepare to deliver this quickly.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

  • A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch next week to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.
  • This will help ensure that eligible businesses facing short-term cash flow difficulties can continue to access finance as they respond to the temporary impact of the coronavirus outbreak on cash flow.
  • By providing an 80% government guarantee on eligible lending, this scheme will give lenders the confidence to keep lending to businesses. The government will provide as much capacity as required for this scheme. There will be no fee for lenders or borrowers to benefit from this guarantee.
  • The Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. Businesses can access the first 6 months of that finance interest free, as government will cover the first 6 months of interest payments.
  • The scheme is open to businesses with a turnover of less than £41m (as long as the business is long-term viable and is UK based) which meet the scheme’s eligibility criteria. Full details on the eligibility criteria will be announced shortly.

The first loans will be available next week and further details of the new scheme will be announced shortly. Businesses worried about accessing finance now should speak to their usual lender.

3. New Coronavirus Updates and Guidance

NEW – Government to grant permission for pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways as part of coronavirus response.

  • Planning rules will be relaxed so pubs and restaurants can operate as hot food takeaways during the coronavirus outbreak.

NEW – Temporary relaxation of the enforcement of EU drivers’ hours rules: drivers supplying supermarkets

  • Temporary relaxation of the EU drivers’ hours rules for a 30 day period, for drivers supplying supermarkets with food and other essential items

NEW – Schools, colleges and early years settings to close

  • Schools will close from Monday, except for children of key workers and vulnerable children.
  • Examples of key workers include NHS staff, police and supermarket delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work to support the country’s fight to tackle coronavirus.
  • To support nurseries at this time, they will be eligible for a business rates holiday for one year and the Government will continue to pay funding to local authorities for free childcare entitlements.

NEW – Complete ban on evictions and additional protection for renters

NEW – Coronavirus (COVID-19) – delivering our public services

  • Our public-facing services are continuing to operate. On this page there will be updates if services are affected. Services include the redundancy payments helpline, bankruptcy and director interviews and support for business.

4. ACAS Webinars for Employers

Employers can join a free ACAS webinar ‘Coronavirus – an advisory webinar for employers’. The webinar provides practical advice for employers to help manage the impact of coronavirus in the workplace. It includes:-

  • steps that can help reduce the spread of the virus
  • effective ways of communicating with employees
  • self-isolating, time off, sickness certification and sick pay
  • altering working hours, shift patterns and working arrangements
  • remote working and the use of technology

Businesses can find out more and register here.

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Business Intelligence and Readiness Directorate
19 March 2020

Home & Gift Harrogate to go ahead, say organisers

Home & Gift Harrogate will go ahead as planned, organisers have told Bira.

The show has been a key date in the retail calendar for 60 years, bringing the retail industry together and allowing buyers and brands to meet, share and do business.

Clarion Events, the organisers behind Home & Gift, have today confirmed that the 2020 edition of the show is set to continue as planned on July 19-22, offering an opportunity to bring the industry back together at a critical time.

Kelly Grant, Show Director, said: “Over the show’s history the retail industry has weathered many storms, with the current COVID-19 outbreak undoubtedly one of the toughest, but it is together that the industry will persevere.

“We will of course continue to monitor the situation closely and adhere to the advice of relevant authorities, with the safety of our visitors, exhibitors, suppliers and staff being the number one priority.

“Now more than ever, we want to ensure our valued community can get the most out of every opportunity Home & Gift presents, and the entire team will be on-hand to help however possible. If there are any decisions that need to be made, we will work through these with our customers and involve them every step of the way. We wanted to take this opportunity to thank our customers for their continued support.”

Home & Gift 2020 will take place in Harrogate from 19-22 July, offering an all-inclusive buying experience that mixes big name brands, exclusive new names and retail insight.

Registration is open now. For more information, please visit

Help with non-domestic rates in Scotland during coronavirus (COVID-19)

rates scotland

Last update: 19.03.2020
To help owners of non-domestic properties, including businesses, deal with the impact of COVID-19, the Scottish Government has made changes to non-domestic rates (business rates) for 2020-21.

The move follows Bira’s direct plea to Scottish Ministers to follow the measures outlined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.

Bira’s CEO Andrew Goodacre said: “We are pleased Scotland has decided to follow the English Government’s lead in scrapping business rates for all retail businesses for a year. It is something we have been asking for and this shows they were listening.”

The Scottish Government has introduced extra rates reliefs (discounts). It has also introduced a one-off grant for some businesses.

These reliefs will be available to non-domestic properties from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.

It will be possible to apply for the grants from April 2020 and they will be available to 31 March 2021.

(!) The non-domestic rates reliefs and grant funding measures announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in March 2020 apply only in England. They do not apply in Scotland.

Extra reliefs to help with COVID-19

All non-domestic properties in Scotland will get a 1.6% rates relief. This relief effectively reverses the change in poundage for 2020-21.

You do not need to apply for this relief and it will be applied to your bill by your local council.

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will get 100% rates relief. To get this relief, a property has to be occupied.

The Scottish Government are working with Scotland’s 32 Councils to make sure this relief is administered in the most effective way. You can check this page for updates, including information on any application process.

(!) You can get these rates reliefs even if you already get another relief for your property.


Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value between £18,000 and up to and including £51,000 will be able to apply for a one-off grant of £25,000.

A one-off grant of £10,000 will also be available to small businesses who get:

You can also get this grant if you applied for Nursery Relief or Disabled Relief but are eligible for the Small Business Bonus Scheme.

(!) You can only apply for one grant – even if you own multiple properties.

Applying for a grant and getting paid

The Scottish Government are working with Scotland’s 32 Councils and other stakeholders to agree a common approach to the application process.

This should help make sure there’s an effective and timely processing of grants as soon as possible.

Deferring payment of non-domestic rates

If you’re struggling to pay your non-domestic rates bill you should contact your local council and ask them about your payment options.

Types of retail, hospitality and leisure businesses who qualify

This list is not exhaustive. If you think you may be eligible for this relief, contact your local council.

Retail businesses+

Hospitality businesses+

These businesses include:

  • bed and breakfast accommodation
  • camping sites
  • caravans and caravan sites
  • chalets and holiday huts
  • guest houses
  • hotels and hostels
  • public houses
  • restaurants
  • bothies

Leisure businesses+

These businesses include:

  • arts centres
  • fishing huts
  • sports clubs/centres/grounds
  • galleries
  • museums
  • cinemas
  • music venues
  • recreation grounds
  • studios
  • live music venues
  • theatres
State Aid

State aid rules still apply in the UK until the end of 2020.

The European Commission are consulting with Member States on a number of temporary State aid measures. These measures aim to help with the financial pressures businesses face as a result of Covid-19.

The Scottish Government will work with the UK Government to make sure these measures can be adopted to help Scottish Businesses where possible.

Coronavirus Hub

Take a look at Bira’s Coronavirus guidance hub to gain advice and support for your retail business during the pandemic.


Bira welcomes temporary abolition of business rates in Scotland

rates scotland

The Scottish Government’s move to temporarily abolish business rates in a bid to minimise the impact of coronavirus has been welcomed by Bira.

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP has unveiled a new economic package to the Holyrood Parliament in response to coronavirus, including 12 months of full relief from business rates for retailers and hospitality.

The move follows Bira’s direct plea to Scottish Ministers to follow the measures outlined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak yesterday.

Bira’s CEO Andrew Goodacre said: “We are pleased Scotland has decided to follow the English Government’s lead in scrapping business rates for all retail businesses for a year. It is something we have been asking for and this shows they were listening.”

Echoing the plea he made to the English Government, Andrew says the funds must be made available immediately to stop the collapse of many small independent retailers already seeing reduced trade.

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

Harris adjusts sales team visits

Bira Direct Harris Sales Team Adjustments

Following the latest government guidance L G Harris have asked many of their staff to begin working from home. This includes the field sales team. Please see the statement from L G Harris below.

Dear Customer,

RE: Covid-19 Area Sales Manager visits

In response to the guidelines set out by the Goverment in last night’s announcement, we have taken the decision to ask our Area Sales Managers to work from home in the short term. This will mean that any visits that are currently planned will need to be cancelled and your Area Sales Manager will contact you via telephone instead.

Orkla House Care continue to operate business as usual with our facilities in Bromsgrove committed to delivering our product to you, when you need them.

We understand that these are very worrying times for you and we will continue to process and despatch your orders as usual and are available to answer any questions you may have.

You can place orders via any of the following:

• Your Area Sales Manager
• Independent Street Website
• Email to
• Telephone 01527 575441

I hope that you understand that this decision has been made to protect our team and your staff and prevent any further spread of the virus.
If you require any assistance in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact your Area Sales Manager or our customer service department on 01527 575441 or email

Our new Harris website is now live and includes details of all our products as well as some helpful ‘How To’ videos. Please visit us at to see more.

For Hamilton visit

Yours sincerely
Karen Tamplin
National Sales Manager

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Business Readiness Bulletin – Issue 3

coronavirus advice

This business readiness bulletin provides important information for you and your business on Coronavirus (COVID-19), including the latest GOV.UK guidance.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer will provide further advice for business today, Tuesday 17 March. Further information and links to the Chancellor’s statement will be circulated in tomorrow’s bulletin.


NEW – Exceptional travel advisory notice

  • The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions. All countries may restrict travel without notice. Please continue to check FCO travel advice on GOV.UK for the latest updates.


NEWCOVID-19: guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people

  • New guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable people has been published. It advises on social distancing measures we should all be taking to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Employees should work from home, where possible; avoid large gatherings; and avoid non-essential use of public transport. Everyone should try to follow these measures as much as is pragmatic. Those who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, are strongly advised to follow the advice.
  • New guidance has been published for households with possible infection. You can find more information


Business Support

  • Businesses should read and follow the online guidance for employees, employers and businesses. If you have a query that isn’t covered by this guidance you can contact the Business Support Helpline on: 0300 456 3565
  • The Small Business Minister and Small Business Commissioner are calling on the UK’s big businesses to speed up payments to their small business suppliers wherever they can to ease COVID-19 related cash flow issues. You can find more information here.


NEW and Updated COVID-19 industry guidance

  • Following last week’s shift to the ‘delay’ phase of the action plan new and updated industry guidance has been published for specific sectors.


NEWProduction and supply of ventilator components

  • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is looking for organisations who can support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components across the United Kingdom as part of the government’s response to COVID-19. If your business can help with the Prime Minister’s call for ventilator production, please visit https://ventilator.herokuapp.comto register your details.



Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Business Intelligence and Readiness Directorate
17 March 2020

New emergency funds welcomed – but must be available immediately

Budget 2020

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

However, CEO Andrew Goodacre says the funds must be made available immediately to stop the collapse of many small independent retailers already seeing reduced trade.

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

  1. 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 retailers
  2. Cash grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 for smaller retailers (below £51,000 RV)
  3. 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.

Bira welcomes move to support small businesses in Wales through coronavirus

GBHS Awards 2020

Bira has welcomed a move to support small businesses in Wales through the coronavirus crisis.

The Welsh Government has announced it will temporarily reduce – or abolish – rates for some small businesses in a move worth £200m to help limit the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses.

Shops, leisure and hospitality businesses in Wales with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will receive 100% business rate relief for 2020/21. Pubs with a rateable value of between £51,000 and £100,000 will receive a £5,000 reduction on their bill.

Last week, Bira urged Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to follow the emergency measures set out for England, which were announced in the Budget. Scotland has since announced it will implement its own steps to support small businesses through the global pandemic. Read more about support for Scottish businesses here

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said: “Once again, common sense has prevailed and we are delighted the Welsh Government has decided to follow the measures set out in England. Any support which can be given to small retail businesses at this challenging time gets our full support.”

Bira Direct Product of the Month – EVO Lifestyle Products

Bira Direct Product of the month EVO lifestyle

The essential cleaning sponge from EVO Lifestyle products

An official brand partner of Mrs Hinch the scrub daddy range has become a firm favourite in the cleaning category with customers.

  • Scrub Daddy’s FlexTexture® changes texture based on your water temperature. Firm in cold water for tough scrubbing, soft in warm water for light cleaning
  • He rinses free of debris, resists odours, and cleans well with water alone
  • Scratch free on over a dozen surfaces from non-stick to stainless steel and even car exterior paint
  • His eyes hold onto your fingers and mouth cleans both sides of utensils
  • Sanitize Scrub Daddy on the top rack of your dishwasher or in the microwave

To order contact Email: / Tel: 0330 2200 671

EVO Lifestyle Products Supplier Page


Bira Direct Supplier of the Month March 2020 – Primaflow

bira direct supplier primaflow

Primaflow is the largest distributor of plumbing fittings and related plumbing sundries.

Primaflow offer a vast range of plumbing products and a next day delivery service, from their Birmingham distribution centre, with just a £50 minimum order. The cut of time for a next day delivery is 5pm.

From copper fittings to drain cleaner, plastic plumbing to taps. They are a one stop shop for all your plumbing needs and have recently launched their new Pre-Pack plumbing range which is a great way to display and sell plumbing products. Available to fit onto your own peg boarding or purchased as part of a pre-pack stock and stand offer. Bespoke stands are also available.

Primaflow Stock Profile

If you are looking to add plumbing into your business but are not sure which products you need or if you already stock plumbing products but want to make sure you have the right range, then please contact Primaflow to arrange a visit from an account manager.
For help and advice on a stock profile please contact Paul Weller: Tel: 07740409323 Email:

View offers and price lists by clicking the button below.

Primaflow Supplier Page

products from primaflow bira direct product of the month

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Business Readiness Bulletin

coronavirus readiness

This business readiness bulletin provides important information for you and your business on Coronavirus (COVID-19), including the latest GOV.UK guidance.

NEW: Stay at home guidance. The guidance for people with confirmed or possible coronavirus infection has been updated. If a person has symptoms of coronavirus infection however mild, the person should not leave home for 7 days from when the symptoms started. After 7 days, if the person feels better and no longer has a high temperature, the person can return to their normal routine. If the person has not had any signs of improvement and have not already sought medical advice, the person should contact NHS 111 online at or call NHS 111. Cough may persist for several weeks in some people, despite the coronavirus infection having cleared. A persistent cough alone does not mean the person must continue to self-isolate for more than 7 days. Find the updated guidance here.

NEW: For individual businesses, the first port of call for advice and support is However, we are also scaling up our Business Support Helpline so businesses in England, of all sizes, can pick up the phone and speak directly to an advisor (Devolved Administrations have their own equivalent services in place). The number to call is: 0300 456 3565

NEW: HMRC have launched a tax helpline to help businesses concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Find all the information here. The number is 0800 0159 559.

NEW: Companies House has produced guidance if coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected your company and you need more time to file your accounts. Find all the information here.

NEW: Guidance for British people living or travelling overseas following the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). Find the update guidance here.

Online resources for businesses and employers

For the latest information and advice, employers and business owners should visit guidance for employees, employers and businesses. Check the page regularly for updates and subscribe to receive email alerts.

Information includes:

Business Support announced in the Budget

The Chancellor announced a package of measures to provide support for public services, individuals and businesses affected by Covid-19.

A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will enable businesses with a turnover of no more than £41m to apply for a loan of up to £1.2m, with the Government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees. This will unlock up to £1 billion pounds to protect and support small businesses.

For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the Government in full. This will provide 2 million businesses with up to £2bn to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave.

A dedicated helpline has been set up to help businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs. Through this, businesses may be able to agree a bespoke Time to Pay arrangement.

There will be a £3,000 cash grant to 700,000 of our smallest businesses, delivered by Local Authorities, and worth a total of £2bn.

Finally, the Government is temporarily increasing the Business Rates retail discount in England to 100% for 2020-21 for properties below £51,000 rateable value.

Public Health Advice – Business Continuity 

The Government currently advises businesses to continue to operate as usual. There is presently no reason businesses or individuals should stop carrying out their daily activities as they normally would.

  • There is currently no need to close your workplace, cancel meetings or large-scale events or initiate working from home.
  • There is no need to close your workplace or send other staff home if a suspected case has recently been in your workplace, unless you have been directed to do so by the local Public Health England Health Protection Team.
  • Businesses are not being advised to cancel travel, except to at risk regions. FCO travel advice remains under constant review and the latest guidance can be found here.
  • Employees should continue to follow existing risk assessments and safe systems of work. There is no perceived increase in risk for handling post or freight from specified areas.
  • Sector specific guidance for care professionals, workers in education and other affected sectors is available on GOV.UK and updated regularly.

Businesses should check for daily updates at GOV.UK and subscribe to receive email alerts to ensure they are acting on the most up to date information. 

Request for business intelligence: How is COVID-19 impacting businesses?

The Government is closely monitoring developments in relation to potential economic impacts on the UK economy and individual businesses and supply chain and we are keen that businesses feed back any specific concerns.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy seeks business intelligence on how COVID-19 is impacting individual businesses and business sectors.  We welcome information from you and your members on:

  • The impacts across supply, demand and labour markets
  • Actions being taken by firms to address these impacts
  • Any gaps in the Government response from your perspective

Please send your business intelligence to  We understand that individual company information may be commercially sensitive, and it will be treated accordingly.  Please note that this inbox is only for receiving intelligence and does not provide business advice. For business advice queries, please visit the latest GOV.UK guidance.

£320 million package of support for Scotland’s businesses

coronavirus advice

Immediate action in response to COVID-19 for Scotland

New measures to limit the impact of COVID-19 on the business community in Scotland have been announced by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.

The following steps will be put in place to support businesses during the 2020-21 financial year:

  • a 75% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 from 1 April 2020
  • an £80 million fund to provide grants of at least £3,000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of COVID-19
  • 1.6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland, effectively reversing the planned below inflation uplift in the poundage from 1 April 2020
  • a fixed rates relief of up to £5,000 for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 from 1 April 2020

The Finance Secretary will also write to all local authorities urging them to respond positively to requests from rate payers for payment deferrals for a fixed period.


Ms Forbes said:

“COVID-19 will have challenging implications for businesses and the economy over the coming weeks and months.

“As well as following the latest health and travel advice, it’s also crucial we consider the latest economic analysis and listen carefully to what the business community is telling us. We know that the tourism and hospitality sectors are facing immediate pressure, which is why we have directed support to them in particular.

“All rate-payers will benefit from a relief that effectively reverses the planned inflationary uplift in the poundage that was due to come into effect in April.

“The measures I’m announcing today will provide a £320 million of assistance to Scottish business and ensures that all Non Domestic Rate consequentials we expect to receive from the UK Government associated with the COVID-19 outbreak will be used to provide Scottish business with support through what is likely to be a difficult time. We will also be making the case to the UK Government that, because of the larger number of small businesses in Scotland, we need additional resources to be able to provide further support.

“Businesses receiving support are being encouraged to operate with fair work principles including supporting staff to self-isolate when they need to and if they have caring responsibilities and to consider keeping staff in employment where at all possible.

“We continue to work closely with our partners to identify what further support is needed and I’d encourage any businesses with questions relating to the impact of COVID-19 to contact the helpline we launched this week.”


Additional information

The business helpline number is 0300 303 0660. The helpline will be open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm.

Callers should select option one to speak to the COVID-19 team.

Further additional guidance and information, including links to guidance for travellers and the general public, can also be found on HPS’ COVID-19 page.

The latest numbers of test results are published at 2pm each day on the Scottish Government website.


Bira calls for uniform rates relief across the UK

independent retailers

Bira is calling for uniform rates relief across the UK in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the spring Budget, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak took the exceptional measure of abolishing business rates for one year for retailers and cafe owners in England with a rateable value of below £51,000.

However, the relief of these rates will not necessarily be implemented in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, where the decision to do so is devolved to Ministers there.

Bira’s CEO Andrew Goodacre said: “We must ask that common sense prevails and retailers are given uniform support across the UK.”

As part of the Budget, Mr Sunak also announced that there would be an extra £640m for Scotland, £360m for Wales, and £210m for Northern Ireland.

Coronavirus emergency fund – what it means for you

Coronavirus: Government advice and support

Newly-appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivered his first Budget yesterday (March 11).

It included a £30bn emergency package to help the UK economy weather the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and comes following a direct plea from Bira.

Here’s what the measures will mean for small independent businesses – and how to access help.

Coronavirus crisis package:

  • Business rates abolished for one year for retailers and cafe owners in England with a rateable value of below £51,000
  • 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
  • ‘Business interruption’ loans of up to £1.2 million for small retail businesses
  • Any company eligible for small business rates relief (SBRR) or Rural Rate Relief may be eligible for a £3,000 cash grant
  • New HMRC helpline launched to help businesses concerned about paying their tax due. For details click here

As part of the Budget, Mr Sunak also announced that there would be an extra £640m for Scotland, £360m for Wales, and £210m for Northern Ireland. Business rates are devolved and there is now pressure for Ministers to match the changes in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said: “Bira asked the Government for an emergency business fund to support independent retailers in the wake of the coronavirus crisis and they listened.

“It looks like the Government has made real effort to support small businesses but we remain concerned for those retailers with a rateable value of above £51,000, especially those with less than 250 employees. These are also small retail businesses but they are not getting much help – if any.

“We would also like to see Ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland agree to match the changes to business rates set out for England.”

For more information on the Government’s measures to help small businesses through the coronavirus crisis click here

To access all the latest health and safety advice to help you deal with coronavirus, click here



Coronavirus: Employment and Health and Safety advice

All you need to know about how your business can take appropriate risk control measures in the face of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Find out more

Coronavirus: Guidance for employers and businesses

In case coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads more widely in the UK, employers should consider some simple steps to help protect the health and safety of staff.
Find out more

Tax helpline to support businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)

coronavirus hmrc

New HMRC helpline launched to help businesses concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

HMRC has a set up a phone helpline to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

The helpline allows any business or self-employed individual who is concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus to get practical help and advice. Up to 2,000 experienced call handlers are available to support businesses and individuals when needed.

If you run a business or are self-employed and are concerned about paying your tax due to coronavirus, you can call HMRC’s helpline for help and advice: 0800 0159 559.

For those who are unable to pay due to coronavirus, HMRC will discuss your specific circumstances to explore:

  • agreeing an instalment arrangement
  • suspending debt collection proceedings
  • cancelling penalties and interest where you have administrative difficulties contacting or paying HMRC immediately

The helpline number is 0800 0159 559 – and is an addition to other HMRC phone contact numbers.

Opening hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturday 8am to 4pm. The helpline will not be available on Bank Holidays.

Click here for more support on the coronavirus

Budget 2020: Bira welcomes emergency funds to help independent retailers through coronavirus crisis

Margin management in fluctuating currency market. bira. World First. British Independent Retailers Association.

Bira has welcomed the Chancellor’s emergency package to help small retail businesses amid the coronavirus crisis.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivered his first Budget this afternoon (March 11) which included a £30bn package to help the UK economy respond to the coronavirus. He announced the outbreak will bring ‘significant impact’ in the short term.

Measures announced to help small retail businesses include:

  • Business rates abolished for one year for retailers and cafe owners with a rateable value of below £51,000
  • 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
  • ‘Business interruption’ loans of up to £1.2 million for small retail businesses
  • Any company eligible for small business rates relief (SBRR) or Rural Rate Relief may be eligible for a £3,000 cash grant

Elsewhere in the Budget, the Chancellor said the outdated business rates system would not be reformed until later in the year. Bira has campaigned for urgent reforms of the system and hoped to see plans for this outlined today. He did however, announce a £5bn investment in Broadband in the country’s hardest-to-reach areas.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said: “We are delighted to see that the Chancellor listened to our concerns regarding the potential impact of Covid19. The retail discount being increased to 100%, the support with SSP and small business grants are all very welcome.

“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.”

South East Essex Branch Meeting Minutes

Member Meetings | Meet like-minded business owners

Meeting                Bira South East Essex Branch


At                                The Springhouse, Springhouse Road, Corringham.

                                    South East Essex Branch


Date                            Tuesday 21st January 2020


Present                       Ron Huelin (Chairman)           – Retired Member

Maureen Huelin (Secretary)   – Retired Member

Roy Dedross (Treasurer)         – Retired Member

Don Lang                                – F.G. Lang (Grays) Ltd

Dave Baskerville                     – F.G. Lang (Grays) Ltd

Alan Parker                             – F.G. Lang (Grays) Ltd

Alan White                              – Retired Member

Irina White                              – Retired Member


Circulation                South East Essex Branch Members

Andrew Goodacre – Chief Executive Officer bira

John Halliday – Marketing Director


Chairman’s Introduction

Our Chairman, Ron Huelin opened the meeting and thanked everyone for coming.


Apologies for Absence

Dave Henderson, Bob and Maureen Croot


Approval of Minutes

The minutes of meeting held on Tuesday 19th November 2019 were approved and signed by the Chairman, Ron Huelin.


Matters Arising – None


Speaker – No speaker


A copy of an email received from Andrew Goodacre was handed out and a general discussion followed regarding the contents.


It was felt that it is inevitable that there will be changes within bira and everyone was pleased that there is some hope that branches wont be effected too much at the moment.



£100 has been sent to Rainy Day Trust.


Rainy Day Trust Collection – £17


Date and Venue of Next Meeting: 17th March 2020

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday 17th  March 2020 and will take place at the Springhouse Club, Springhouse Road, Corringham SS17 7QT


Future meeting dates:           26th May,  21st July,  15th September,  17th November.

Bira’s five-point plan to Save Our Shops (SOS)

Treasury Select Committee

A five-point plan to Save Our Shops (SOS) has been issued by Bira.

It’s the key feature of Bira’s forthcoming manifesto which focuses on what can be done to better support independent retail businesses and minimise the burden on them.

Bira is asking for the following:

  • Urgent business rates reform – the current system is outdated and unfair
  • Improved parking and accessibility to high streets and towns to boost footfall
  • Preventative action, and extra support, for retailers affected by crime
  • Provision to support and encourage new businesses with tax allowances
  • Fairer implementation of the new Digital Service Tax to generate more income from the large internet businesses.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said: “Without radical change, more businesses will close and the sight of empty shops and buildings will be prevalent in every town and on every high street. This is why Bira is issuing its new SOS manifesto.”

Call for emergency business fund to support coronavirus-hit independent retailers

Budget 2020

Bira is calling for the Treasury to set up an emergency business fund to help those affected by coronavirus.

The plea comes as part of Bira’s statement to Chancellor Rishi Sunak ahead of next Wednesday’s Budget.

Bira is calling for a number of measures to support small retail businesses through the coronavirus emergency including:

  • An immediate increase in the business rates discount to 75%, and extended to more businesses until this emergency has passed
  • Tax holidays to support cash flow in businesses that will see significantly reduced sales – this could include reduced VAT, rates for larger businesses, etc
  • Support for retailers when dealing with employees who are required to self isolate.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said: “We need immediate action to support the economy.”

Bira is also hoping Mr Sunak’s first Budget will include strategy for comprehensive reforms of the unfair and outdated business rates system, reducing the burden on high street retailers.

There also needs to be more ambitious plans for the new Digital Services Tax with online companies making a much larger contribution to the cost of running a business in the UK.

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

Ahead of the Budget, Bira is urging you to write to your local MP to raise awareness of the need for business rates reform. Click the button below to find our template email

Your template email


Coronavirus information for independent businesses

coronavirus information

In response to the Government’s action plan to help tackle the Coronavirus, we’ve outlined information on what business owners and employers can do to mitigate the impact to them.

As of 4 March 2020 there have been a small number of cases in the UK but the Government have warned that the virus is likely to spread across most of the UK before a vaccine can be provided.

What is the Coronavirus and what are the signs and symptoms?

A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China in January 2020.

The incubation period of COVID-19 is between 2 to 14 days. This means that if a person remains well 14 days after contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, they have not been infected.

The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:

  • cough
  • difficulty in breathing
  • fever

Generally, these infections can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

What to do next

All employers have a duty of care to their staff and businesses. We’ve outlined a detailed guide on what considerations employers and businesses should be making regarding good practices to follow, sick pay, dealing with employees who become unwell, if you need to close your business and more. You can view our guidance by clicking on the button below.

Read more about dealing with the Coronavirus

New immigration points system – what you need to know

Bira’s legal partner Ellis Whittam tells you all you need to know about the Government’s new immigration points system

Now, as the transition period plays out, the government has finally unveiled how its ‘Australian-style’ points-based immigration system will work in practice. With immigration one of the driving forces behind the Brexit referendum and a key component of the Conservative’s election campaign, the message is largely as anticipated: move away from relying on ‘cheap labour’ from Europe and invest in homegrown talent.

New Home Secretary Priti Patel told BBC Breakfast that the government is keen to “encourage people with the right talent” and “reduce the levels of people coming to the UK with low skills”. It is hoped stricter rules will encourage employers to tap into eight million “economically inactive” workers in the UK – although many remain sceptical that British people will be willing, or indeed able, to pick up the shortfall left by EU workers.

For many employers, the thought of sacrificing a significant proportion of their workforce to stricter immigration rules will be unnerving. Indeed, business groups representing sectors such as farming, hospitality and care have expressed deep concerns over looming labour shortages. However, Patel insists that the “firm and fair” system will help to “create a high-wage, high-skill, high-productivity economy”, adding “employers will need to adjust”.

The finer details

Free movement will end on January 1, 2021. From this date, overseas citizens will have to score a minimum of 70 points across defined categories to be able to work in the UK. In terms of eligibility criteria, all applicants, from both EU and non-EU countries, will need to be considered ‘skilled’, speak English and have an on-the-table job offer.

  1. Applicants must be ‘skilled’

In a policy statement published on February 19, the government confirmed that it will aim to reduce overall levels of migration by giving “top priority to those with the highest skills and greatest talents: scientists, engineers, academics and other highly-skilled workers’. Under current rules, ‘skilled’ applicants are those qualified to graduate level; however, the new system will expand the definition of skilled to include workers educated to A-level or their national equivalent. The current cap on the number of skilled workers granted entry into the UK will also be lifted.

  1. Applicants must speak English

The statement confirms that applicants must be able to speak English “at [the] required level”. No further details are provided.

  1. Applicants must be guaranteed a job paying at least £25,600

From 2021, anyone wishing to work in the UK must have secured a job offer with a salary of £25,600. However, in sectors with particular skills shortages, this threshold will be lowered to £20,480. In addition, highly-skilled individuals, who achieve the required level of points in other categories, will be able to obtain a visa without a firm job offer ‘if endorsed by a relevant and competent body’. The government has also stated that a ‘broader, unsponsored route’ will be created to allow a small number of the most highly-skilled workers to enter the UK without a confirmed offer of employment.

What if workers don’t meet the criteria?

Applicants won’t necessarily need to meet each individual requirement in order to come to the UK for work. The government has confirmed that under the points-based system, applicants will be able to ‘trade’ certain characteristics. In other words, a specific job offer or qualification in a relevant subject may offset a lower salary.

For example, if an employee has a job offer of £22,000, they will be awarded 0 points against salary as this is less than the £25,600 requirement. However, as it is still above the lower limit of £20,480, this alone doesn’t automatically mean they will be denied entry. The applicant may still achieve the required 70 points by picking up points in the following ‘tradable’ categories:

  • Offer of job by approved sponsor (20 points)
  • Job at appropriate skill level (20 points)
  • Speaks English at required level (10 points)
  • Job in a shortage occupation (20 points)

What about self-employed workers?

The statement confirms that there will be no dedicated route for self-employed people coming to the UK. This will put a stop to freelancers and independent tradespeople arriving in the UK without a guaranteed work and will force such individuals to seek out employed positions instead.

What happens now?

The lack of provision for low-paid workers has been heavily criticised by industry leaders, who have voiced concerns over staffing shortages and urged the government “not to turn the tap off overnight”. However, recognising that the new system “represents a significant change for employers”, the government has promised a phased approach starting from 2021. It has committed to a “comprehensive programme of communication and engagement in the coming months” to help businesses adapt to the changes, and will shortly be publishing a response to the Law Commission Report, which pushed the government for details on how it will ensure a streamlined and simplified system.

For now, the EU Settlement Scheme remains open, and employers looking to retain existing EU staff should encourage workers to apply online ahead of the 20 June 2021 deadline. For further guidance on supporting EU citizens to apply for settled status, read Ellis Whittam’s simple guide.

Concerned about the impact of Brexit on your workforce?

The Employment Law specialists at Bira Legal can help you to adapt to the new immigration rules, respond to changes in legislation, and answer any questions you may have about what Britain’s departure from the EU means for your workforce. For practical advice and guidance, call 0345 450 0937 or email

Frankie Bridge helps launch search to find Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2020

Singer and now author Frankie Bridge has helped launch the search to find the UK’s Best Small Shop of 2020.


Visiting independent book shop Linghams in Heswall, the Wirral, Frankie, whose new book Open: Why Asking For Help Can Save Your Life is now available at booksellers across the UK, kickstarted this year’s competition for which entries are now open.



The annual competition, which culminates in a ceremony at the Houses of Parliament, highlights the best of Britain’s independent retail sector, celebrating the commitment and creativity of independent retailers on the UK’s High Streets and the central role they play in their local communities. It is managed by the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC).


Previous winners have included Bristol-based delicatessen Papadeli, the 2019 winner, and The Mainstreet Trading Company, a combined bookshop, café, deli & homeware shop based in St Boswells, in the rural Scottish Borders, which won in 2018.


To enter, shops must be an independent retailer, defined as a non-corporate business selling goods or services to the public for use or consumption rather than for resale, from a business rated premises in the UK. Competition entrants will be challenged with promoting the benefits of their retail offering to consumers with the initial selection process being voted on by the general public on the contest’s website.


“Despite the challenging retail environment, there is plenty of evidence that people value and think it is important to support small local businesses and independent retailers,” explains Mark Walmsley, Chairman of the Independent Retailers Confederation.


“These retailers sit at the heart of communities up and down the country, offering a meeting place, not to mention choice, diversity, innovation and genuine customer service. That’s what we are celebrating with these awards. We have a bright and vibrant independent retail sector and it’s important that we put it in the spotlight.”


Find out more and enter your shop

New Toast shop will offer its customers 135 different spreads

Braintree’s newest coffee shop will open on Saturday 21st February during a grand opening ceremony. MP James Cleverly is set to cut the ribbon around 10am to mark the official launch of Toast on High Street. The new cafe offers customers the chance to choose from 135 different spreads to put on a slice of toast, which can be enjoyed alongside a classic hot drink.

The spreads on offer include Tiptree jams, Marmite, nut based butters, chocolate spreads and even sprinkles. Toasties are available on the lunch menu, while there are also light snacks, cold drinks and vegan options.

Rob says he first had the idea of a ‘toast’ style coffee shop 12 years ago and has given the cafe an upmarket feel. Despite the stylish look, he says prices will be less than neighbouring Costa. Seating areas inside the shop are available on the ground floor and the basement area, which has been given a major makeover ahead of the launch. Rob said: “There was a wall in the basement so we just saw it as a storage area and nothing more. But we knocked down the wall and found out we had a lot more space so fixed it all up into a nice seating area. We’ve been working on the shop for about two months so it’s been a quick turn around.

“The idea for this coffee shop has been in my head for a long, long time, purely because it appeals to everyone. There’s no reason why it won’t work, so long as we get the content right. It’s a big gamble but it will be one of those ideas where if it was to be successful in a few years time, people would be kicking themselves they hadn’t thought of it.

“Toast gives us a unique selling point. It appeals to the toddler who wants a slice of toast when their mum or dad is grabbing a coffee, the fitness buff who wants some protein from a nut-based spread, or even the pensioner who wants their marmalade they have every day.”

Fresh bread will be delivered to the coffee shop on a daily basis, and Rob and his team will be out on the High Street before the opening to offer shoppers a taste of the teas and coffee which will be on offer.

As chairman of the Braintree Town Partnership which aims to promote business in the town, he sees the launch of Toast as an example of his vision to evolve Braintree town centre into a place for people to east, drink and socialise.

He added: “One of the reasons I wanted to set this up here is because of my role in the town partnership and I really believe in Braintree. I think with the right people and the right ideas, we will turn the town around. Pedestrianisation will play a big part in this but we need everyone to get involved and help.

“This is a pilot but if this one works, we’re hoping to set up a couple more. It would be exactly the same as this. We would pick up and take it to other places. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we need to see if this works first.”

Content source: Braintree & Witham Times



We’re proud to support independent cafes & eateries

Whether you’re looking to open your own independent café or coffee shop or have been in business for years, Bira is here to provide support so your business can thrive.

Join membership from just £205

Information and resources tailored to your business

Find business discounts, advice and information for cafes and eateries on our dedicated page.
Find out more

Government consultation on increasing the number of Changing Places Toilets

disabled toilets

Last summer the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) consulted on increasing the provision of large, well-equipped disabled toilets, known as Changing Places Toilets in public places in England.

Although the website at that link says the consultation has closed, the background documents are available there and we have recently reopened a Survey Monkey consultation to do some targeted consultation for organisations in the sectors that will be affected by new requirements, which will take effect through statutory guidance underpinning accessibility requirements in Part M of the English Building Regulations.

MHCLG consulted on requiring these toilets in a wide range of building types including “shopping centres/malls or retail parks with a gross floor area of 30,000m2 or more, and “single retail premises with a gross floor area of 2,500m2 or more that is not within a shopping centre/mall or retail park where a facility is already required” – this would be for new buildings, or those undergoing change of use, extension by 25% area or more, or for those undergoing material alteration.

The vast majority of respondents (over 1400 – the majority being users or carers) were content with MHCLG’s proposals, but they didn’t get many responses from the retail sector, so have asked Bira to disseminate these links. MHCLG would like to get responses to this targeted consultation by 5pm on 21 February

Click here to complete the survey

Severe flood warnings across the UK

Flood protection for your shop

As of Wednesday 19th February, the government has announced six severe flood warnings with danger to life and 126 flood warnings where immediate action is required across the UK.

Hundreds of locations have already been affected by the heavy rain-falls. Key locations for the most severe flood warnings currently include:

With weather forecasts suggest further rain-fall is still to come, these warnings come with advice to plan ahead and sign up for flood warnings in your area.

As an independent retailer, it should be a priority to prepare your business and your staff should the worst happen. Bira Insurance have shared advice on how to prepare for flooding and how to limit damage when extreme weather threatens your business.

Read more about preparing for floods


Bira Bank’s vehicle loan promotion is now live

Vehicle promotion live news banner

Bira Bank, the provider of affordable, reliable and personal finance for Bira members, has announced that their vehicle loan promotion is now live.

If you are looking to make your next vehicle purchase affordable and want to avoid the pitfalls surrounding PCP finance, Bira Bank is here to help you.

Hurry, these promotional rates will only be live until April 30th 2020.

vehicle promotion live new     vehicle promotion live used


Bira Bank has recently developed partnerships with large vehicle brands to give Bira members a chance to purchase brand new vehicles for consistently discounted prices. Save the hassle of awkward negotiation with dealerships and get a great deal, all year round.

To find out more about our vehicle loans, click the buttons below.

Find out more about Bira Bank’s promotion

Bira Bank’s vehicle brand partners