David Preston, Chief Executive of NABMA, has sent the following letter to Rishi Sunak the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
I write further to our letter and email dated 16 March 2020 to which we await a response.
As a reminder, local markets are a key part of the supply chain for fresh food and consumables. Their self-employed market traders – just like company employees – urgently need your financial support to get through this unprecedented crisis.
The National Association of British Market Authorities represents local traditional markets including public, private and community operators. There are around 1,200 markets in the UK; many additional special event traders and some 40,000 self-employed/ small business traders that use markets as their primary trading outlet. Markets are an important nurturing tool for retailers of the future. Markets generate some £3.1 billion that we feel is not acknowledged in the financial support measures announced for the economy.
Of course, the actions in financially supporting employees of companies to keep them afloat is welcomed – but sole traders on our local markets, being self-employed, are generally falling outside of your support measures – yet are just as much at risk of losing their livelihoods.
We wish to highlight that many of your proposed incentives are based around information that is to be taken from rateable values. We would point out, as examples, that many market traders and micro businesses do not have business premises and therefore cannot access any grant now available; also many are sole traders and cannot claim the 80% wage support. Many are long standing family businesses with no formal contracts of employment. Many pay market rents which are inclusive of a rates charge, but that is not separately identified – as it is the market as a whole that is rated. It is also important to stress that many traders are mobile, work on daily licences with different markets on different days and therefore are invisible to government and local authorities in terms of the urgent support you are offering.
On the basis of the above, then individual traders also need to be able to access grants, and possibly loans, to help them through the next few months. As stated, sadly, many market traders currently fall outside of the help that government is providing and urgent action is now needed to address this situation.
Local markets and their engaged businesses are a key part of town and city centres past, present and future. Our fear is that they may never recover to be able to restart and be part of the Government’s focused aspiration and investment for High Street regeneration, unless they receive both recognition and financial support now . Many markets are giving their traders support through rent “holidays” , free or reduced fees, and help in other ways. NABMA members cannot continue to support markets for a long period in this way and the industry as a whole needs support to survive. Markets should also be able to apply for grants from government to sustain their existence.
NABMA also understands from the LGA that the terms of reference for the forthcoming Business Rates Review are published and yet, despite a long campaign by NABMA, the intention is not to support statutory relief on markets and yet such a benefit, we presume, will continue to apply to private markets? We would please urge you therefore to revisit this matter as all markets, local authority and private, need every encouragement and incentive looking to the most uncertain future for our industry.
In summary, NABMA and its membership wish to work with you and would ask you, with urgency, to address and respond to us on
- How the 40,000 self employed markets traders, micro and small businesses that support out traditional markets can immediately receive both guidance and a package of business incentives and support to sustain their livelihoods in the current unprecedented circumstances. This to include grants, and possibly loans, to help them continue in business in the next few months?
- A programme of specific market related grants from government, available to market operators to sustain the continuing existence of the markets industry
- A commitment going forward to consider and consult on the issue of statutory business relief for markets for both local authority and privately operated markets.
We look forward, due to the absolute urgency of this matter, for an early response.