An organisation which champions small businesses in the UK has released a 10-strong list of things it wants the government to consider to support businesses amid speculation of another potential lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly in urgent talks with scientists and advisors about the possible introduction of new restrictions in England, in an attempt to stem the spread of the Omicron variant.
Now the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has released a 10-point plan of options for economic support that it says ministers should be considering alongside stricter health measures.
The list includes necessary steps to support sectors such as hospitality – which are already bearing the brunt of lost trade – as well as other options which would help small businesses continue to function through the new year and into the spring.
FSB is calling for a 100 per cent business rates relief for eligible retail and hospitality businesses, as well as a cut in VAT to five per cent for tourism and hospitality.
It believes those in supply chains to these sectors should also be supported, including through unlocking funds from the Business Rates Relief Fund, which was announced in March but is still not up and running.
For the UK’s 5.5 million small businesses more widely, FSB’s proposals – which have been put forward in a series of high-level meetings with ministers and officials – include reinstating the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) rebate, a VAT deferral, the reintroduction of the Jobs Retention Bonus and a Hardship Fund in England to match similar support in Scotland and Wales.
The full list of options proposed for consideration
- Increase the 21/22 66 per cent business rates relief for eligible retail and hospitality businesses to 100 per cent;
- Urgently release the £1.5 billion Business Rates Relief Fund to help supply chains;
- Reinstate the Covid Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) rebate for all SME employers;
- Re-introduce the Jobs Retention Bonus;
- Reduce employer national insurance;
- Reduce VAT in tourism and hospitality;
- Introduce a ventilation grant scheme to assist small businesses in making their premises covid-secure for the long term;
- Introduce a Hardship Fund in line with Scotland and Wales, and speed up local authority delivery of grants;
- Defer quarterly VAT payments accrued from trading in this quarter;
- Give proper breathing space to businesses struggling with Covid debt.
FSB National chairman Mike Cherry said: “It is incumbent on Ministers to consider an economic plan at the same time as it publicly debates further health restrictions.
“At the very least, Government should already be reducing the fixed tax burden levelled on businesses when it is actively attempting to reduce social contacts – if more onerous measures are being considered, then it is essential to consider more comprehensive support for businesses and jobs at the same time, such as re-introducing the Jobs Retention Bonus.
“In hospitality, we’re hearing of dire examples from our members of cancellations and no-shows on a vast scale, stock having to be thrown away and staff hours reduced. This, in turn, is hammering firms in the supply chains of these businesses.
“Failure to introduce business support to match the scale of public health restrictions will be damaging to the economy, jobs and communities.”