Measures outlined by the Prime Minister in response to the recent violent disturbances go a great way towards providing the support many shops need to get back on their feet.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is pleased David Cameron has acknowledged the considerable impact nights of rioting and theft have had on the retail sector, and it echoes his condemnation of the perpetrators. A temporary suspension of business rates for affected premises will offer some help to shops facing cash flow problems. Reassurance that stores with inadequate insurance will have access to compensation is also a vital measure and will be a lifeline to many small businesses.
The BRC says the short-term help for affected businesses and high streets needs to be followed up by a long-term plan of action to revitalise urban shopping areas. Those responsible for vandalism and theft must be properly punished to deter future attacks on property, whether retail or residential.
British Retail Consortium Director General, Stephen Robertson, said: “The Prime Minister has listened to our pleas and satisfied the majority of them. The mindless damage done to shops over the past few days is in effect mindless damage to our communities. The Government has shown great willingness to work with retailers to put our streets back together.
“Our biggest fear is that otherwise successful retailers are pushed into insolvency by the events of this week. Suspending business rates on wrecked shops, flexibility on VAT collection and reassurance that shortfalls in insurance cover will be made up will all help substantially minimise that risk. Planning flexibilities on security measures should also extend to rebuilding.
“The retail sector has been battling difficult trading conditions for much of this year and sadly for some shops these attacks will be the final straw. Even where shops do manage to stay in business it is likely not all jobs will survive. Support for retailers will translate directly into support for employees, and preserve vital local services.
“Our high streets urgently need action which will revitalise them in the long-term. When the rubble has been cleared away and stores have reopened, there will be bigger, underlying problems still to address. We look forward to working with the Government to establish an action plan which will give our communities the vibrant, well-kept and successful high streets they deserve.”