You will be aware of the five point support plan that NABMA submitted to government last week looking at trader, operator and start back support that the markets industry urgently requires.
A response has been received today from the Town Centre and High Streets Policy Team within the Cities and Local Growth Unit. It confirms that
“We are looking carefully at your proposals and sharing them with colleagues in the department to consider how they might fit in with the wider picture of support for local authorities and others”.
With regard to the specific NABMA five points then the response details
1. Supporting Traders and Small Businesses
NABMA is reminded of the announcement on Thursday 26th March that through the coronavirus (Covid-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme, the Government will pay the self-employed a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 per month. The response adds “This help will be available to self-employed market traders, so should help alleviate some of your concerns here.”
2. A Business Interruption Compensation Scheme
The response confirms that “We are grateful for your proposal for a “Business Interruption Compensation Scheme” to compensate local authorities and other market operators for the revenue lost due to the pandemic.”
NABMA is now asked to support government to get a feel for how significant the losses will be. A NABMA questionnaire will be therefore be produced shortly and sent to members to try and capture some evidence.
The response further adds “As you indicate, as commercial landlords, local authorities will be suffering loss of commercial rent income in other areas, so this is part of a wider picture where government needs to consider what support is needed”.
3. Market Start Back Scheme
The response confirms “We have noted NABMA’s suggestion of a start-back scheme and will keep this under review for the longer-term.
NABMA has now been asked to assist to provide further information on the level of risk that certain markets may not start back; the market closure rate in recent years and the number of markets currently still open selling essential goods – and the number closed. We will be asking these questions of our members shortly.
4. Business Rates
The response is detailed but confirms “We appreciate your point about the need to create a level playing field for local authority and private market operators in respect of business rates……………..”
The response adds “As we discussed when we met in January, parity with private sector markets could only be achieved through changes in the legislation. However, clearly the issues have been brought into sharp relief given the significant challenges posed by the pandemic, and the stresses local authorities are under. We will look into this further with local government finance colleagues in the department. This is also something that could be considered as part of HMT’s Business Rates Review”.
5. A National Programme to Restore Markets and Market Trading
The response confirms “We are grateful for your offer to lead, support and manage the recovery phase for the retail markets industry. We will keep this option and kind offer under review for when we are progressing town centre recovery. Thank you again for your continuing input as we consider how best to help the retail markets industry through the current difficulties and beyond”.
NABMA will now consider the various follow ups needed and in the next few days will be seeking evidence from NABMA members to provide for government. At this time we are encouraged by the initial response, and the opportunity to continue discussions at the highest level of influence to safeguard and sustain our markets.