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Retailers will pay no business rates

ShoppingCRetailers will pay no business rates for a year as part of the Government’s efforts to protect the economy in the face of coronavirus.

Rishi Sunak’s £330bn package also includes loans to companies and grants to smaller retailers, leisure companies and hospitality firms. Compnaies in those sectors with rateable values of between £15,000 and £51,000 will be eligible for grants worth up to £25,000.

Britain’s smallest 700,000 businesses – across all sectors of the economy – will also be eligible for cash grants of £10,000.

‘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,’ says Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium chief executive.

Paul Johnson, Institute for Fiscal Studies director says the chancellor is likely to have to do more.

‘The support through business rates holidays and payments is targeted directly at the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors many of which will be suffering a lot, especially in light of yesterday’s new announcements discouraging people from patronising such businesses. This is a substantial level of support. However, it is probably not well targeted at saving jobs in those industries. 

‘It will remain as expensive to pay people and if demand is down then jobs are likely to go. Supporting employment might require a targeted package which included targeted cuts to employer national insurance contributions, a delay in increases to the national living wage, and increased support for individuals through universal credit. Government might also want to facilitate people being able to move into jobs where there is now much greater demand – delivery drivers and warehouse workers for example – in a way which allows them to return easily to their original jobs once the crisis is over.

‘Firms outside the leisure and hospitality sector have not been targeted with this additional direct support. Many of them may face similar problems of reduced demand, or problems resulting from fewer employees able to work. As the chancellor said, more measures are likely to be necessary.’