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    Spring Budget must provide help for small businesses

    (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

    The Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) has urged the Chancellor of the Exchequer to address a number of factors that are threatening the very existence of many smaller retail businesses.

    The Fed’s National President Jason Birks has written to Jeremy Hunt with a list of issues to be taken into consideration ahead of the Spring Budget on March 15.

    The letter comes after the Federation added its calls to those of other trade associations urging the business secretary to look again at the latest energy help (EBDS), as it does not provide enough support or is targeted appropriately.

    Mr Birks said: “The energy relief scheme is simply not enough. Support needs to be targeted for small businesses feeling the biggest impact of the energy crisis. The government must look at the way it can target support to these businesses and support them during this time of crisis.

    “We also want to see the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Ofgem encourage energy suppliers to help the most vulnerable business customers renegotiate or ‘blend and extend’ their energy contracts to better reflect lower wholesale energy prices.”

    Other concerns raised by Mr Birks on behalf of the Fed’s 10,000-plus members include the rising price of goods, which is likely to result in a further increase in retail crime; the current labour shortage; and the proposed deposit return scheme (DRS) in Scotland.

    He added: “The Fed is also calling on the government to provide support to small businesses that are being affected by the rising cost of fuel. It will ultimately put people out of business.

    “It is essential that the chancellor considers all these points for the Spring statement. Independent retailers are continuing to struggle, and it is vital that they receive adequate support from the government.”

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