Flood-hit retailers could be missing out on valuable support to help get their businesses back on track, it has emerged.
Almost three months after flood waters devastated stores across the UK, many retailers are still struggling to secure adequate levels of support and clarity from their local councils, despite the government having pledged a package of measures earlier this year.
At Barns Green Village Stores, West Sussex retailer David Heritage bemoaned the lack of clarity about the promised business rates rebate.
“It’s proving to be a thoroughly painful process. I’ve spent hours on the phone to Horsham District Council, which has still not been able to tell me how the rates relief is being worked out and what level of rebate I can expect.
“I thought it was to be for a full three months, but it has been suggested it might only cover the days we were closed, which in our case is two, not withstanding it was Christmas Eve and we usually take about £4,000. If that’s the case I am likely to get just £11.20!”
Government advice to local authorities states that 100% rate relief for three months should be granted to businesses adversely affected by flooding between 1 December 2013 and 31 March, 2014.
In Cornwall, Ponsanooth Village Stores owner Michelle Firminger said: “I’ve been trying to apply for the business rates relief for a couple of weeks now, but the council has been quite unhelpful, and I still haven’t been able to begin the process.”
The government has also pledged to provide a Business Support Scheme to provide hardship funding for businesses in flood-hit areas, plus Repair and Renew grants of up to £5,000 for businesses. However, Convenience Store also understands that details of the latter are still to be finalised.
Cornwall Council has updated its website so businesses can apply for Business Rate Relief and Business Support Schemes.