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12 March 2020
The 2020 Budget has left some Swindon Town Centre retailers grateful that the Government has recognised that support is needed to help these businesses during challenging times.
High streets across the UK have faced a difficult period in recent months, with consumers changing their buying behaviour through increased online shopping, and footfall affected by the recent storms. With the addition of the coronavirus outbreak, there is further uncertainty ahead for town centre businesses.
The Government’s Manifesto was always to cut business rates for small businesses with a rateable value below £51,000. Still, the 2020 Budget takes it one step further by abolishing the rates entirely for one year. The announcement has provided some relief to some Swindon Town Centre businesses.
Jon & Heidi Flitcroft, owners of The Octagon Restaurant at Newbridge Square, said: “We are currently exempt from business rates, and we qualify for the small business relief. However, the government grant of £3,000, being made available to us through the relief scheme, will help immensely with running costs, as we have noticed a huge drop in footfall traffic and custom. If things worsen over the coming weeks/months, I hope that a small business like ours will be able to survive.”
Ian Jones, Store Manager at Great Western Cameras on Market Street, responded on the cuts: “Regarding the business rates reduction, I personally feel this is a huge positive to us as a business and the wider small business community. Hopefully it will be more permanent than the chancellor has suggested as business rates are one of the major factors stopping businesses from expanding and even forcing businesses to close.”
inSwindon BID Ltd Marketing Manager, Angie Blackford, commented on the recent announcement: “This is a challenging time for us all, especially during the current climate. Of the 470 plus businesses that we have within our BID area in the town centre, this announcement will affect over 90 of them. These businesses include many of our independent retailers in the town centre where it’s hoped will give them some relief over the following months. As we await further announcements from the Government, we encourage people to #lovelocal and continue their business in our town centre to support our local community.”