Chancellor Rishi Sunak should “level the playing field” for small businesses competing with giants like Amazon by covering their postage fees this Christmas, the Lib Dems have urged.
The party’s Treasury spokeswoman, Christine Jardine, called for a scheme to help shops hit by decreased footfall during the coronavirus pandemic in a similar vein to how the Eat Out to Help Out scheme aided restaurants.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) welcomed the “creative idea” to help firms survive, while the Treasury defended its “comprehensive” support package to date, pointing towards the recently-extended furlough scheme.
Ms Jardine wrote to Mr Sunak calling for the Government to cover postage for online orders from independent shops to make them more favourable destinations for present buying.
“When people turn online to do their Christmas shopping, free postage offers from online shopping giants and the ease of Amazon Prime are incredibly tempting,” the MP added in a statement.
“That makes it an even tougher climate for small business and shut shops. I’m asking the Chancellor to level the playing field and give small businesses the chance to thrive for online at-home shoppers.
“We want the PM to pay the postage on online purchases from small local independent shops to make them a more viable option for people hunting for Christmas presents and encourage people to shop small from home.”
FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said “we must pull out all the stops” to help small businesses survive to the end of 2020 and beyond.
“This is the type of creative idea that would boost small businesses and balance out the playing field,” he said.
“This is going to be the most important festive season our economy has ever seen and could be make-or-break for some of our small businesses.”
The Treasury said its “comprehensive package” of support so far has helped to “provide a lifeline to millions of small businesses” including through loans, grants and deferred tax bills.
“Last week we announced that our furlough scheme will be extended until the end of March, on top of business grants of £3,000 a month,” a spokeswoman added.
“We keep our support under constant review and are committed to helping people and businesses through this crisis.”
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