Supermarket giant Asda said it is waiving government relief on business rates for a year introduced last March as a key support measure to retailers hit by the pandemic.
For the year to the end of March, 2021, the non payment of business rates would have saved Asda £340m across its network of UK stores.
However, it has confirmed that it is unilaterally waivng the support, saying that the UK Government and devolved administrations, although in Wales larger firms weren’t exempted from business rate reliefs, should redirect the money to support those most in need.
Through the height of the pandemic Asda recruited over 22,000 additional staff, with no employees being furloughed.
Asda president and chief executive, Roger Burnley said: “Throughout the pandemic we have always sought to do the right thing – fulfilling our role in feeding the nation, protecting our colleagues and supporting our communities. But, as the hope of a vaccine and a more ‘normal’ life returning in 2021 grows, we have confidence that we are in a strong position to again do the right thing for the communities we serve.
“Almost half our customers are telling us they expect their financial position to worsen in the next 12 months and we recognise that there are other industries and businesses for whom the effects of Covid-19 will be much more long lasting and whose survival is essential to thousands of jobs.
“We will therefore be discussing with the UK Government and devolved administrations the best mechanism to ensure the relief we have received can go towards helping those that need it most.”