Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre said the statement is "underwhelming for indie retailers with limited help on rising costs to business"

Bira ‘underwhelmed’ with offerings for indie retailers in Spring Statement

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) has said it is ‘underwhelmed’ with the offerings for independent businesses following yesterday’s Spring Statement.

In the announcement by Chancellor Riski Sunak in the House of Commons, he revealed the basic rate of income tax will be cut from 20p in the pound to 19p. There will also be a temporary 12-month cut to duty on petrol and diesel of 5p per litre, in response to rising fuel prices.

In response to this news, Bira’s CEO Andrew Goodacre said: “The Spring Statement is underwhelming for indie retailers with limited help on rising costs to business. Whilst we support cuts in fuel duty and an increase in NI allowance, this not nowhere near enough to offset 300% increases in energy, 100% increase in rates and double-digit increases in the cost of employment.

“The 1p cut in income tax is a classic diversionary tactic designed to hide a statement which is short on support for business. Increases in product costs are easier to pass on to consumer, but these rising overhead costs are not which ultimately means a very difficult year for small retailers.”

Elsewhere, charity Cycling UK called the statement a “sticking plaster for the problems we face today”, with head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore saying it “demonstrates little vision on how to solve our transport problems”.

“The cost of living crisis has brought the lack of transport alternatives apart from the car into sharp relief, with people paying the penalty at the pump,” said Dollimore. “The Chancellor’s spring statement shows lessons have not been learned from the past or our current situation, and demonstrates little vision on how to solve our transport problems.

“Now’s the time to plan for the future, to invest in our towns and cities in ways which will unlock our car dependency. Cars have their place, but when 68% of journeys under five miles are currently driven – distances easily cycled or in some cases walked – it’s clear there has been a failure to provide suitable transport alternatives.

“A progressive spring statement would have invested in cycling, walking and public transport for the future and not been a sticking plaster for the problems we face today.”

The government is also subsidising the cost of high-quality training to help SMEs “gain the skills they need to succeed”. Help to Grow: Management offers businesses 12 weeks of leadership training through the UK’s top business schools, with the government covering 90% of the cost. The cost of apprenticeship training is 95% subsidised for SMEs that do not pay the Apprenticeship Levy.

The temporary £1 million level of the Annual Investment Allowance has also been extended to 31st March 2023. The government said it is also helping firms to adopt new digital technologies, with Help to Grow: Digital, offering eligible SMEs a 50% discount on approved software worth up to £5,000.

Read more: What IT solutions are available to bike shops?

In April 2020, the government increased the Employment Allowance from £3,000 to £4,000, and the Spring Statement has announced a further increase from April 2022, meaning eligible employers will be able to reduce their employer NICs bills by up to £5,000 per year – this is a tax cut worth up to £1,000 per employer.

To support the decarbonisation of non-domestic buildings, the government is introducing targeted business rates exemptions for eligible plant and machinery used in onsite renewable energy generation and storage, and a 100% relief for eligible low-carbon heat networks with their own rates bill.

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