Banks are failing independent retailers in Covid-19 crisis, says BIRA

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

Bira asked its members three 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 added: “We haven’t had enough profit in the last three years as we are just about ticking over in a job I love.”

Bira also 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.

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 reopen when the situation returns back to normal.”

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