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Following Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget 2021 announcement, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has stated that business rates relief, restart grants/loans, and an extension to the furlough scheme are all “vital to reviving the economy.”

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said that her organisation welcomes the extension of key business funding schemes and targeted support to struggling businesses across the country.

With retail accounting for over three million jobs in the UK, supporting the success of the retail industry will be “essential to unlocking consumer spending and driving forward the UK’s economic recovery,” commented Helen.

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The chancellor has taken steps to avoid the business rates cliff edge on 1 April and the three-month extension will provide essential funding during a challenging time, said Helen. She warned, however, that ‘non-essential’ retailers would struggle with relief only capped at £2 million for closed businesses.

Such funding would not benefit mobility businesses in England, which are classed as an “essential business” with some business owners choosing to remain open while others have opted to remain closed, and the issues that have arisen from both.

The business rates system remains broken, she said. “It is vital that the ongoing business rates review delivers on its promise to reduce the burden on retail which already results in store closures and job losses.”

Rishi Sunak’s announcement about restart grants was also welcome news for the BRC. Helen commented that these are vital to help ‘non-essential’ retailers improve safety measures, build up stocks, and prepare for reopening.

The Chancellor gave no clarity on EU state aid rules, however. Helen added: “If these continue to apply to grants for closed businesses, then many larger companies, employing hundreds of thousands of people, will miss out on millions of pounds of vital support.

An “immediate amendment” to the state aid system is needed, she said, which is stopping impacted companies from accessing these grants.

The BRC, said Helen, hopes that that the loan scheme will play an important role in addressing the cash flow challenges that many firms are facing. She added: “It is vital that the aspirations of the Chancellor are met by action from commercial lenders to ensure that this all important finance reaches its destination quickly.”

An extension to the furlough scheme is also welcome by the BRC, providing a “safety net” for unnecessary job losses.

Helen said: “This generous scheme will help protect the future of the 600,000 retail employees currently on furlough.”

The extension of the furlough scheme has so far received a mixed response from the mobility sector.

The BRC understand the need for increased taxation to restore public finances and cover some of the vital spending on business support, commented Helen.

Corporation tax, she said, is a fair way to achieve this as it ensures that those with the “broadest shoulders” take the largest burden. However, she added that increases in corporation tax must go hand-in-hand with “bringing business rates down to a sustainable level” to prevent the shuttering of many more local shops.”

It is vital, she said, that the ongoing business rates review meets its objective to reduce the rates burden on retail, which is causing stores to close and jobs to disappear.

The additional incentive offered by the UK Government to take on new apprentices is welcome by the BRC. Helen added: “But what is most important to the success of such training and the upskilling of our future workforce would be greater flexibility in how firms are able to spend their Apprenticeship Levy funds.”

Support for businesses to improve digital skills and develop their online offering will boost an already dynamic sector is also welcome by the BRC.

The UK retail industry, Helen said, is a global leader in digital innovation and online retail has provided a vital lifeline for many households across the country over the course of this pandemic.

The ‘super-deduction’, however, must include investment in new technology, said Helen.

“The UK retail industry’s investment in digital innovation, which is already world-beating, could be further boosted if this is tailored appropriately. This in turn will create more high value jobs and added value for UK plc.”

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https://i1.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/open-shop-sign-window.jpg?fit=900%2C550&ssl=1https://i1.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/open-shop-sign-window.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Liane McIvorGovernment & Local AuthoritiesInvestments & FundingNewsroomSector Newsbritish retail consortium,Budget 2021,businesses,funding,Mobility,Rishi SunakFollowing Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget 2021 announcement, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has stated that business rates relief, restart grants/loans, and an extension to the furlough scheme are all “vital to reviving the economy.” Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said that her organisation welcomes the extension...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals