Retail News

Independent food retailers need help from the Executive

Glyn Roberts, chief executive, Retail NI.

Retail NI has urged the NI Executive to go much further in supporting local businesses, raising a number of issues with the economy and education ministers over the last few days.

“Retail NI members and their staff are on the front line ensuring that people are able to buy food and other vital products,” said Glyn Roberts, chief executive, Retail NI. “They are putting their own health at risk to serve their communities. There is a huge shortage of hand sanitisers, which our staff urgently need to protect their health and to continue to provide this front-line service. Ministers need to act on this.

“Our members’ staff are designated as key workers and we have been picking up from them today that they are being given differing information from schools which are providing childcare facilities. The Education Minister has already stated that only one person needs to be a key worker to avail of the childcare in schools. However, some schools are insisting it must be both.

“Retail NI does appreciate the assistance of the schools in providing childcare for key workers, but this inconsistency needs to be addressed so that key workers in healthcare, retail and other sectors who are providing front-line essential services for us all, can do their jobs and not have the additional stress of childcare to worry about.

“We also urgently need the 100% small business rate relief for one year, which is available in the rest of the UK, to be implemented and the immediate establishment of the £10,000 and £25,000 Covid-19 Grant Support scheme.

“Given that the 2020 Rates Revaluation unfairly penalised independent retailers with excessive increases of up to 50%, Retail NI has requested that the Executive postpones or even cancels it to support our members through this truly challenging time.”

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