David Cameron announces raft of measures to help businesses affected by riots
Prime Minister David Cameron has announced in Parliament this morning a raft of measures to help retailers who have been affected by the riots.
- Businesses which have suffered damage to or loss of their buildings or property as a result of rioting, will be able seek compensation under the Riot Damages Act, even if uninsured. Whereas normally claims must be received within 14 days, the deadline will be extended to 42 days.
- A new £20 million high street support scheme has been set up to help affected businesses get back up and running quickly.
- To minimise the costs facing businesses, the government will enable local authorities to grant business rate relief, by funding at least three quarters of their costs.
- Tax payments for businesses in greatest need will be deferred through Time to Pay and other practical support.
- For businesses that have been the most badly damaged the government has instructed the valuation office to immediately stop liability for council tax and business rates.
- Planning regulations will be relaxed to make it easier for shops to put up protective shutters.
- A new £10 million Recovery Scheme has been established to provide additional support to councils in making areas safe, clean and clear again.
- The government has pledged to meet the immediate costs of emergency accommodation for families made homeless by the disturbances.
The Prime Minister said that the government had been assured by The Association of British Insurers that claims will continue to be dealt with as quickly and constructively as possible. The ABI has told the government that it expects the industry to be paying out in excess of £200 million.
Commenting on the measures, British Retail Consortium director general, Stephen Robertson, said: "The Prime Minister has listened to our pleas and satisfied the majority of them. The mindless damage done to shops over the past few days is in effect mindless damage to our communities. The Government has shown great willingness to work with retailers to put our streets back together.
"Our biggest fear is that otherwise successful retailers are pushed into insolvency by the events of this week. Suspending business rates on wrecked shops, flexibility on VAT collection and reassurance that shortfalls in insurance cover will be made up will all help substantially minimise that risk. Planning flexibilities on security measures should also extend to rebuilding.
"The retail sector has been battling difficult trading conditions for much of this year and sadly for some shops these attacks will be the final straw. Even where shops do manage to stay in business it is likely not all jobs will survive. Support for retailers will translate directly into support for employees, and preserve vital local services.
"Our high streets urgently need action which will revitalise them in the long-term. When the rubble has been cleared away and stores have reopened, there will be bigger, underlying problems still to address. We look forward to working with the Government to establish an action plan which will give our communities the vibrant, well-kept and successful high streets they deserve."
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