In the last week we have witnessed the Chancellor’s Budget announcements around business incentives and the unprecedented and escalating position of Coronavirus and its resulting impact on our membership.
A high profile NABMA market operator told us over the weekend that its market and restaurants trade is down by 50% to 90%. They anticipate the first businesses folding in 2/3 weeks, and the majority not lasting beyond 2 months. This is a most critical and worrying time for markets and the many businesses they represent.
Although the agenda for mass gatherings and retail will be announced by government, this sets out the NABMA position for the coming weeks in the light of recent and emerging events.
- Our primary focus will be to try and support markets in these unprecedented times. This in terms of help and advice wherever possible; restricting meetings but sharing good practice, information and advice through Basecamp and other NABMA communication channels.
- A meeting has been requested with the Chancellor, or his officials, to ask for urgent support for the markets industry. The NMTF will be invited to share this invitation with us. The 1,150 regular traditional markets support tens of thousands of small businesses. They also have a significant role to play in the future of town centres. Assistance with business rates is a priority but we also want to know what other general help can be provided to the markets industry to keep it trading at this time, and to help the many small businesses that are now facing an uncertain future.
- We would urge that all NABMA members contact their own local Member of Parliament and ask them to write to the Chancellor on the matter of business rates and to look to provide general support for markets, so that the many thousands of small businesses can continue to trade.
- As part of a meeting, or communication with the Chancellor, to acknowledge that many markets are theoretically in a position to take advantage of the recent announcement on abolishing business rates under £51,000. Unfortunately local authority markets cannot do this because the ability to grant relief falls under Section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 and under that part of the Act a local authority is unable to allow relief to itself. NABMA is asking, as a matter of urgency, that the discretion is applied to all markets as until this discretion is applied we have an unfair situation as markets operated by private operators only are in a position to take advantage, that then places them at a significant advantage to local authority markets. Out of the 1,150 traditional markets, some 82% are provided by local authorities thereby highlighting the imbalance and the need for remedy. Giving local authority markets freedom from business rates liability will help them to face the challenges that currently exist and provide them with hope for a more confident future.
- Love Your Local Market from 16 to 30 May is intended to continue. It is important to send out the message that markets are vital as a business and social asset within their community and a low level entry cost for starting a local business. We intend to provide an additional social media resource in the lead up to the event, subject, of course, to government announcements.
- Planning for our September conference at Stratford upon Avon will continue. It will be very important to offer an opportunity to bring together the NABMA membership to take stock of events and plan for the aftermath of Coronavirus.
- We currently have 4 Regional Conferences planned for May/June. It is becoming clear that the possibility of holding these events is diminishing. We will therefore keep the dates for now, but realistically accept that they may need to be moved towards the autumn.
Please contact your Member of Parliament and ask them to support their local markets at this most critical time. Also keep NABMA in touch with the local decisions and performance that relate to your markets.