Covid-hit retailers to be given further support, business secretary says

Businesses looking to secure major government contracts worth over £5 million will now have to pledge to be net-zero by 2050 from September this year.
The move is the first of its kind to be launched anywhere in the world.
// Businesses affected by the pandemic will be given further support as restrictions continue
// Kwasi Kwarteng is working with Chancellor Rishi Sunak to provide financial support
// Labour party warned a £50 billion “bombshell” could ensue if no action is taken

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has announced he is working with Chancellor Rishi Sunak in an effort to provide further support to Covid-hit businesses, after calls to extend the business rates holiday.

Ministers are currently in talks with the Treasury over extending financial support to retailers, following the Labour party’s warnings of a £50 billion “bombshell” if no action is taken.

The retail sector, along with leisure and hospitality, has not had to pay rates for the current financial year after the government launched a rates holiday at the onset of the pandemic.


The Treasury has been urged to extend the business rates holiday beyond March.

The property tax is currently set to restart in April for the new financial year despite non-essential retailers remaining shut due to lockdown restrictions.

MP Paul Scully said businesses have raised concerns over a “cliff-edge” and also over fixed costs they have to deal with.

Both Kwarteng and Scully said a “flexible” approach to financial support is needed to help firms.

Shadow business minister Lucy Powell said businesses face a £50 billion bombshell in April, “yet many retail services won’t even be open by then”.

“So does Kwarteng agree personally with Labour’s plan to extend business rate holidays for at least six months, and the furlough while public health measures remain, to deal with this bombshell before it blows a big hole in our economy?,” Powell said.

Moreover, SNP MP David Linden said around 24,000 retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in Scotland are currently supported by 100 per cent rates relief.

That support has been extended until the end of July.

Separately, the government urged England’s councils not to issue business rates bills this month ahead of the new 2021/22 financial year.

Councils have been demanded to delay issuing business rates bills until after Chancellor Rishi Sunak sets out the Budget on March 3.

The government has signalled that further support for occupiers of commercial property like shops, pubs and restaurants is coming.

The business rates holiday in England is currently due to end on March 31.

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