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    Grimsey review calls for amnesty scheme for UK small business loans

    22
    Jul '21
    Pic: Shutterstock
    Pic: Shutterstock
    Bill Grimsey, retail expert and former boss of Wickes, Iceland and Focus DIY, in his latest review report into the future of UK town centres and High Streets, has cautioned that the country’s small shopkeepers are struggling under a £1.7-billion mountain of debt and called for a government amnesty scheme to write off such loans for viable small businesses.

    Unless the government steps in, the United Kingdom could face a ‘tsunami’ of shop closures this autumn, he said. The review said independent High Street businesses now owe four times as much as they did a year ago. Around 17,500 chain stores that shut down in 2020.

    "The French government is already working on a policy to save small businesses from being crushed by debt and we need to do the same to save thousands," said Grimsey.

    Two years ago the UK government announced that Mary Portas would lead an independent review into the future of the high street. Its aim was to come up with suggestions for government, local authorities and businesses to take action to save High Streets.

    The Grimsey Review, released this year, is an alternative review available to all political parties in order to shape policy and action plans that when implemented will make a difference.

    Grimsey said small shops have survived the pandemic by borrowing, but are now faced with the task of repaying, according to British media reports.

    "But they've also been forced to take on government-backed loans, which they would not have normally been able to get because their balance sheets wouldn't allow it. Now they are struggling to manage a mountain of debt and need help," he said.

    One bright spot has been the rise of the fast-growing hair and beauty sector. But here, too, there were challenges, Mr Grimsey said, pointing out that the sector is largely unregulated compared with other European countries.

    Working conditions had also become more insecure, with 63% of people working in beauty salons now self-employed, he added.

    "Britain is at a crossroads and the pandemic has brought about sweeping changes that will make a decisive break with a traditional High Street model," he cautioned.

    Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)


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