The Green Party has called on the government to provide more financial support for independent businesses by reversing its decision to stop Covid-related business rate appeals and extend the business rate holiday and current tourism VAT cut through 2021.
The call comes after it emerged last month that the government would legislate against the ability to appeal, which has granted small, independent businesses a lifeline amidst financial difficulties with lockdown restrictions not set to fully lift until the summer. Last December the Greens laid out their five point plan for small businesses to get back on their feet in the wake of the pandemic.
Salisbury Green Party's lead candidate Rick Page said:
“Non-essential retail, hospitality and leisure are some of the sectors in the UK hardest hit by Covid-19 due to the nature of social distancing. It’s only right the government reverses its decision to stop appeals, extends business rates for a significant period of time and offers immediate financial support to those companies still losing money as a result of not being fully open."
“Many of these small businesses which are often family-run were struggling from online retailers before the pandemic began and for a year they have been pushed to the brink of closure. The long-term financial effects of having no business for such a prolonged period of time is a terrifying prospect."
The Greens' five-point plan includes an extension to the business rate holiday and larger monthly grants, offers independent high-street businesses a route out of the hardship of the last 12 months, something the government continually fails to provide. We want independent businesses to be at the heart of a Green recovery, and would facilitate this by lending at affordable rates and establishing a network of regional mutual banks, which would provide funding for locally-led economic initiatives and opportunities.
The Greens would support the creation of a bigger, more diverse future for business, through stakeholder finance, ownership rooted in communities and business done for the common good. We place huge value on the importance of small, family-run businesses and realise how hard it can be to start and run these enterprises. Three important areas of focus are:
Recovery from the pandemic
- Greens would increase the money provided through grants for businesses that had to close due to lockdown. Currently, the payment tallies £1,300 per month for those with a rateable value of £15,000, which is simply not enough.
- Many businesses, like nurseries, have had to remain open throughout lockdown at extra cost to them. Greens are pledging a discretionary grant, administered by councils and paid for by the government, to cover these extra costs.
Extending the business rate holiday and VAT cut
- Greens would extend the business rate holiday for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, with the government providing compensation to local authorities for loss of income. With business rates devolved in Wales, we would also call on the Welsh government to do the same.
- Greens would extend the current tourism VAT cut and expand it to: food and drink served in pubs, bars and restaurants, theatre, music concerts, museum and gallery tickets, and hotel bookings.
- This would be part of a process to review our VAT system so it differentially supports smaller shops compared to larger and online ones.
- The Green Party wants 15% of government contracts to be granted to small or micro businesses, while making it easier for a business to apply for a contract.
- We would provide independent businesses access to lending at affordable rates by establishing a network of regional mutual banks; these would provide funding for locally-led economic initiatives and opportunities, including co-operatives and non-profit businesses.