Retail NI Says Stormont Must Back High Street At Christmas

Executive Must Get Behind Christmas Campaign To Support High Streets Says Retail NI.

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Executive Must Get Behind Christmas Campaign To Support High Streets – Retail NI.

A delegation of Retail NI members met with the Finance Minister this morning to discuss further support for struggling independent retailers.

Retail NI also welcomed today’s announcement from the Departments for Communities, Infrastructure and Agriculture of an additional £11.6m support package for town centres.

The business group has also called upon the Executive to get behind a Christmas campaign to get shoppers back into town centres to support local retailers.

Speaking after the meeting, Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “Retail NI welcomes the further £11.6m support package for town centres by Executive departments as a step forward but much more will be needed to get through Christmas and beyond.

“We are now starting to see a domino effect of one trader after another closing on our high street and in our town centres which will result in the loss of thousands of jobs and businesses in retail, hospitality and the wider supply chain.

“As we have seen in many town centres across the UK and Ireland, it is very hard to reverse this ‘domino effect’ which will cause permanent damage to many of our local cities, towns and villages.

“The closure of hospitality and the fear of many consumers to go into town centres along with the huge growth of online sales has meant that high street footfall has fallen off a cliff.

“The Executive, working with Local Councils and business, needs to put in place a comprehensive promotional campaign to encourage and reassure consumers to safely visit their local town centres and support local retailers.

“This is not about a PR campaign… this is about saving as many jobs and businesses as possible at the most important time of the year for retailers.”

Glyn Roberts added: “We greatly appreciate the business rates holiday and the support that has been given to hard-pressed independent retailers, but this needs to continue into 2021 on a targeted basis to reach the businesses that need it the most.

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Applications open for Part A of the Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds has announced applications are open for the first stage of the Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme.

The scheme, which was announced last week, will operate in two parts, with applications for Part A opening tonight at 6pm. Full guidance on Part A, including an eligibility checker and application form, is available at:

 www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/crbss

The scheme will be administered by Invest Northern Ireland, on behalf of the Department.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds said: “From the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, I have been committed to supporting businesses to mitigate the inevitable economic consequences of the restrictions put in place to manage the health consequences of the virus.

“While the restrictions are aimed at protecting public health they have had a significant effect on the livelihoods of many.

“Despite the extensive range of support provided to date, both locally and nationally, I understand that there are many businesses who have been unable to access this support.

“I want to be able to support as many viable businesses and organisations as possible. The Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme aims to help those businesses facing hardship as a result of the current Health Protection Regulations, including those, such as self-employed sole traders, that may not have been covered by previous schemes.

“Part A of the scheme, which opens tonight, is targeted at those businesses required to close/cease trading as a result of the recent Health Protection Regulations and are not eligible for the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme.

“Examples of businesses that may be eligible for Part A of the scheme include businesses that deliver their product or service on a mobile basis or operate from their home, or their customers’ homes; for example a driving instructor or mobile hairdresser or beautician.”

The Minister added: “I understand there will be frustration for businesses within the direct supply chain who have also been significantly impacted by the restrictions.

“An announcement of a second part of the scheme aimed at providing support to these businesses will be made by my Department. This will include details of which businesses will be eligible and when the second part of the scheme will be open for applications.”

Eligible businesses who fall under Part A of the scheme, that is those businesses that are required to close or cease trading as a result of the Health Protection Regulations, and are not eligible for the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme, will be eligible for a flat grant payment of £600 per week, paid in one lump sum.