A temporary suspension of business rates and National Insurance, flexibility in VAT returns, and compensation for the uninsured should all be available to retailers affected by the recent riots, according to a letter submitted by the industry to government this morning.
Industry body the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has set out the demands along with calls for a supportive and expedient planning process to repair any damage caused by the violence and effective local partnerships to kick start those communities blighted by the troubles.
Parliament is reconvening at Westminster today to discuss the riots which have plagued English streets since last weekend, focusing on what went wrong and how these problems can be avoided in the future.
Retailers whose properties were damaged or destroyed in the attacks, which started in London on Saturday and spread to several other areas of the country in subsequent days, will be focused on how to salvage and repair their broken businesses, and BRC Director General Stephen Robertson argues that the government should do all it can to help.
In a letter addressed to Prime Minister David Cameron, Robertson said: “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.”
With cash flow critical to affected retail businesses the BRC has called for these firms to avoid the burden of business taxes whilst they recover, and it also wants an extension to the period retailers can claim for compensation for property damage, lost stock and/or lost business, under the Riots Damages Act 1886, from 14 days to 42 days.
Shops in city and town centres were the main target for the marauding hoodlums intent on stealing and destruction - a further setback for the nation’s high streets which have recently been affected by a steep decline in consumer spending.
A government review authored by TV personality Mary Portas is currently being undertaken to identify ways in which some underlying problems with town centre trading can be resolved, and the BRC wants to see urgent action from the government which will give a boost to the beleaguered industry.
Robertson added in his letter: “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.”