BIRA welcomes increased support for SMEs amid coronavirus crisis

The 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 on Wednesday (11 March) 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 not eligible for small business rates relief will be allowed a £3,000 cash grant

Elsewhere in the Budget, the Chancellor said the business rates system would not be reformed until later in the year.

BIRA, the parent company to the Pet Product Retail Association, has campaigned for “urgent reforms” of the system and hoped to see plans for this outlined.

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.”

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