Retail welcomes ‘bold move’ from chancellor to support business

The retail industry has welcomed the “bold move” announced by the chancellor yesterday (17 March), which included announcing a 12-month rent holiday for all retail businesses.

Last week in his maiden Budget Speech the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced a one-year rent holiday for all businesses of a rateable value below £51,000. However this has now been stretched to cover businesses of all sizes – “irrespective of rateable value”.

He also announced a £330bn package of government backed loans and guarantees for UK businesses to help weather the financial strain caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Responding to the announcement Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said the measures are a “huge cashflow boost” and that the chancellor should be “congratulated” for delivering a “bold package of measures”

She said: “The chancellor has acted swiftly to back retail businesses dealing with the unprecedented challenges created by coronavirus. He is to be congratulated for listening carefully to the concerns of retailers and has delivered a big, bold package of measures that will be a huge cashflow boost and will improve confidence for those affected.

Business rates are a huge burden for retailers at the best of times. The business rates holiday, together with the announcement of a loan package, represent a vital shot in the arm for a sector facing enormous uncertainty. We still need to see the details and make sure that retailers can access cash with the minimum of delay, but it is a welcome and necessary first step to protect jobs.”

She added: “The chancellor has said he will do whatever is necessary to support business and he has shown that he can respond to the changing need of retailers. While these are the right decisions today, the Government may have to take further steps as the full effects of the situation unfold.”

The move was also supported by The CBI as it added that the chancellor is “right to commit to doing whatever it takes”.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said: “The new financial package provides valuable support to areas facing immediate stress, including hospitality and retail. As next steps, it will be vital to stay ahead of the economic impact, not waiting until firms are on the brink. Wider whole-economy measures like regulatory and tax relief in areas including VAT and National insurance will support a broader range of firms in real need.”

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