(Photo pre-Covid). A campaign backed by Andy Carter MP calling on supermarkets to repay money saved in business rates and for it to be redistributed to those who missed out on Government help has today received praise from the Prime Minister.
Supermarkets have agreed to pay back the £2 billion of unpaid rates, after a campaign by Blue Collar Conservative MPs (BCC), of which the MP for Warrington South is a member, wrote to food bosses calling for action.
Boris Johnson has praised the efforts of Andy and his BCC colleagues, but the group wants assurances that money will not be lost in the Treasury pot but redistributed.
Mr Carter said:
I welcome the likes of Asda, Morrisons and Tesco who have added their names to the list of companies planning to give back business rates relief, but the next challenge will be where that cash is targeted by the Treasury.
Speaking to businesses in Warrington South, they breathed a sigh of relief when the Chancellor announced back in March that he was giving companies a rates holiday for 12 months. But we need a fair system whereby those that can afford their rates and have seen sales grow substantially as a consequence of the pandemic support those who have been ineligible for Government support.
The £2bn of unpaid rates is a lot of money that could be ploughed back into local businesses, Ltd companies and freelancers to support them through the next couple of months as we distribute the vaccine across the country on a mass scale.
The praise from the Prime Minister came in Parliament in response to questioning from Tatton MP Esther McVey and founder of the group.
Ms McVey said:
The Prime Minister will know that Blue Collar Conservatism was instrumental in persuading the supermarkets to return the business rate relief that they did not need. We asked them to do this on the basis that there are many who have gone without support during this pandemic and it was on this basis that they returned that money.
So will the Prime Minister ensure that that £2 billion returned by the supermarkets will go to those who had not had any of the support so far, who have been excluded because they cannot go another three months without any income.
Mr Johnson said:
Absolutely and I thank her and her fellow Blue-Collar Conservatives for that initiative and I think it was entirely right and I think those corporations and those supermarkets were entirely right to return that cash.
If you look at the Government’s support packages, they go overwhelming to the poorest and neediest in society. They are fundamentally a very progressive package of measures.
BCC is a grass roots campaign made up of more than 160 MPs in Westminster, who want to give a voice to hard-working British voters and ensure Government policy reflects the needs of their families and communities. By turning politics on its head and escaping the Westminster bubble the group want to let people have their say and those views fed back to ministers.
Andy said the fight will continue to push for assurances as many still faced months of uncertainty as we begin the third national lockdown.
Earlier this year as part of BCC he called for the sentence someone can be given if guilty of assaulting a shop worker to increase after cases soared during the first lockdown.