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

The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) has said more must be done to support independent retailers through the coronavirus crisis.

BIRA has also 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 the list of businesses still allowed to trade, and those being asked to close, how and where to access emergency government support, including the ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption’ loans, details of local authority support, employee/employer guidance including details on sick pay allowance and the latest legislation with regards to ‘relaxed’ trading.

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 be updated on a regular basis.”

However, Goodacre added 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

He 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.”

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