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Retail NI meets with ministers to discuss coronavirus crisis

Glyn Roberts, chief executive, Retail NI.

Retail NI has met with Executive Office Ministers Declan Kearney and Gordon Lyons to push for an emergency programme of business support amid the Covid-19 crisis.

“This was a useful meeting with the Ministers at which we all agreed on the need for a whole societal effort to tackle the impact of Covid-19,” said Glyn Roberts, chief executive, Retail NI. “The health of our community is the top priority, but we want to ensure that there are jobs for people to come back to when this crisis ends.

“Retail NI urged the ministers to bring forward a comprehensive emergency programme of business support, including all of the measures outlined by the Chancellor.

“This has to include the 12 months 100% business rates relief and the funding grants of up to £25,000 for small businesses. We also need to see action for rent relief for businesses who are struggling during this crisis.

“Given that the 2020 Rates Revaluation unfairly penalised independent retailers with excessive increases of up to 50%, we have requested that the Executive postpone or even cancel it to support our members.

“Retail NI members are dealing with the same crisis as their GB counterparts and deserve the same support from Government. Given that thousands of jobs have already been lost in the last few days, this business support plan needs to be brought forward immediately.

“Right across Northern Ireland, Retail NI members and their staff are working exceptionally hard providing a public service, ensuring that the most vulnerable people within our community can purchase food and other essential items. Independent retailers such as convenience stores, grocers, butchers and pharmacies are in the front line of this crisis and deserve every support from Government and the community as a whole.”

In response to the subsequent Executive announcement, £10,000 and £25,000 grants are to be created for small business impacted with Covid-19, Roberts said: “Retail NI has raised this issue of grants with ministers and so we welcome this decision to assist small businesses impacted by Coronavirus. We want these grants to be easily and immediately accessible for small traders with a minimum of bureaucracy.”

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