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Bira calls for emergency business fund

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) is calling for the Treasury to set up an emergency business fund to help those affected by coronavirus. The plea comes as part of Bira’s statement to Chancellor Rishi Sunak ahead of the Budget statement on March 11.

Bira is calling for a number of measures to support small retail businesses through the coronavirus emergency including:
• An immediate increase in the business rates discount to 75%, and extended to more businesses until this emergency has passed
• Tax holidays to support cash flow in businesses that will see significantly reduced sales – this could include reduced VAT, rates for larger businesses, etc
• Support for retailers when dealing with employees who are required to self isolate.
Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said: “We need immediate action to support the economy.”

Bira is also hoping Mr Sunak’s first Budget will include strategy for comprehensive reforms of the unfair and outdated business rates system, reducing the burden on high street retailers.

There also needs to be more ambitious plans for the new Digital Services Tax with online companies making a much larger contribution to the cost of running a business in the UK.

Andrew added: “We have all seen images from towns and cities in Europe that show deserted high streets and empty shops. The Budget needs to support the economy and we must ensure that the high street receives some of that support.”