Retailers have asked the Prime Minister to put in place practical actions to support the rebuilding of high streets wrecked by the shocking violence of the past week when he addresses the House of Commons later this morning – including a temporary suspension of business rates and National Insurance for affected businesses.
In a letter to David Cameron, British Retail Consortium (BRC) Director General, Stephen Robertson, says: “As we emerge from the crisis it is essential that the Government gives a clear signal of support to the affected communities and the retailers at their heart. “
The letter sets out four priorities which are:
- A temporary suspension of business rates and National Insurance for those trading in affected premises together with flexibility in making VAT returns, similar to the post Foot and Mouth measures. Cash flow will be critical for many businesses directly affected by the public disorder and this help could make all the difference for these stores, many of which were struggling before this week’s deplorable events.
- Supportive, expedient planning processes for premises needing substantial repair. Bureaucracy should not delay the re-building and reinstatement of these shattered high streets. A fast-track, pragmatic approach is needed which supports businesses in getting back onto their feet.
- Affected businesses should have recourse to compensation under the Riots Damages Act 1886, with a notification extension from 14 days to 42 days to reflect loss assessment needs. This will be particularly important for small retailers likely to be under insured or uninsured for some or all of their losses. This relief should cover property damage, lost stock and lost business.
- Effective local partnerships will be crucial in getting affected high streets back up and thriving. These partnerships need to be pump-primed with realistic material support and expertise. Failure to do so risks significant business failures on high streets and loss of local services, with long term societal costs. Major retailers are already playing their part in such partnerships across the country and can draw on these experiences.
The BRC has stressed the need for urgent and substantial action given that many of the affected retail locations were already in difficulty.
In the letter the BRC Director General Stephen Robertson goes on to say: “We stand ready to work with the Government on these matters, as well as the important work that will emerge from the Portas Review, in order to make Britain’s high streets great places for retail once more.”