Retail and pub bosses urge Rishi Sunak to extend business support before the Budget

Joanna Bourke and Naomi Ackerman
·2-min read
<p>Business are looking for more support from the Chancellor to help them ride out the virus crisis</p> (PA)

Business are looking for more support from the Chancellor to help them ride out the virus crisis

(PA)

Retail and pub bosses struggling with Covid-19 disruption have demanded the Government announces extensions to business support packages before the Budget.

Companies still have more than six weeks to wait until Budget day, and the uncertainty is weighing heavily on investment decisions.

The Confederation of British Industry has written to Rishi Sunak to call for clarity and continued support.

It wants the furlough scheme to be extended to July, and the business rates holiday extended for at least another three months beyond the end of March.

A series of chief executives today told the Standard the extra support is vital.

Andrew Goodacre at the British Independent Retailers Association said members need “more support than ever if jobs are to be protected. The rates holiday must be extended for another 12 months for non-essential retailers”.

Clothing brand Superdry’s Julian Dunkerton said: “Landlords have been very sensible, what we need now is the government to step up to the plate. The business rates in London are just ridiculous.”

Richard Lambert, chief executive of the National Hair & Beauty Federation, said: “The NHBF wholeheartedly agrees with the CBI that financial support must be extended. Salons and barbershops are facing a cashflow crisis right now, which, once they re-open, will take several months of working flat out to recover.”

Lambert said: “It’s essential that furlough is extended along with business rates relief and the moratorium on evictions. This support needs to wind down as the economy winds up, not suddenly drop away, otherwise business will never get the chance to build back up.”

UKHospitality’s Kate Nicholls said: “Our sector is likely to be the last to open fully, so businesses need support to keep those jobs open and employees need all the support they can get.”

Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Britain's oldest brewer Shepherd Neame, said that the CBI demands in the letter "do not go far enough for hospitality".

He said: "Since we have been singled out for special restrictions and have experienced disproportionate economic damage, we need business rates cancelled for one year through to March 2022 and VAT kept at 5% for that same time."

Young’s boss Patrick Dardis said: “The uncertainty as much as the lockdown itself is causing such anxiety and concern. It is impossible to plan without forward notice on VAT and rates holiday extensions.”

The Financial Times said Sunak is heading for a clash with business over plans to increase corporation tax.

The Chancellor is reportedly looking to tax business more to help close a deficit that could exceed £400 billion in 2020-21.

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