Co-op members urge company to return rates relief

The Co-op Group is reportedly being urged by its members to reverse its decision not to repay the millions of pounds it has received in rates relief this year. 

According to Sky News, some of its National Members Council believe that due to the £150m it has generated from the sale of its Insurance arm along with plans to open a new entertainment centre in Manchester in the coming years, that the board should repay the government subsidy for the betterment of its reputation. 

It comes after grocers Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Aldi and Morrisons agreed to repay a combined total of £1.7bn in rates relief after accepting that despite raising costs the coronavirus pandemic has benefitted their financial performance across the year. 

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Sky also cited a source that said that the Co-op was unlikely to follow suit due its commitment to pay the National Living Wage next year alongside increased costs at its funeral business.

Co-op, unlike its supermarket counterparts, will also not pay a dividend this year.

A Co-op spokesperson told Sky: “The Co-op response to helping to feed and care for the nation during Covid has been outstanding, and we are immensely proud of what our colleagues have achieved.

“We’ve clearly put the interests of people before profits and the extra costs for keeping our colleagues and customers safe have far outweighed the government support we’ve received, in respect of business rates and furlough payments.”

They added: “Given the huge uncertainty we’re facing into still and the ongoing costs we are incurring, we’ll consider our approach in terms of the government support we’ve received at year-end.”

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