The Powys Liberal Democrats have called on the Chancellor to help “level the playing field” so local high streets can compete with internet giants in the run up to Christmas.
The Liberal Democrats fear local shops, hit by decreased footfall during the coronavirus pandemic, will continue to struggle over the festive period and have proposed a new scheme to encourage people to shop local from home.
The Party wants to see the UK Government cover the costs of postage for local shops in order to help them compete with big online retailers. This new scheme would function similar to the Eat Out to Help Out scheme that was introduced to support the hospitality sector over the summer.
The Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson, Christine Jardine MP, has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak about these proposals, and their calls have already won the backing of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
Now the Lib Dems are calling for both of Powys’ Conservative MPs, Fay Jones (Brecon & Radnorshire) and Craig Williams (Montgomeryshire), to back the campaign and help protect local high streets.
Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:
“Small businesses across Powys are rightly worried about their ability to stay afloat over the coming months. For so many, the run up to Christmas is their most lucrative time of year – but this year coronavirus restrictions have caused huge reductions in trade and footfall.
“With online shopping giants such as Amazon offering free next day shipping on orders, those online deals become even more tempting and it means less money gets spent locally in our communities. This makes it even tougher for local businesses to compete, putting our already vulnerable high streets at further risk.
“The UK Government must go the extra mile to support small business over this festive period. That’s why the Liberal Democrats are calling for the Chancellor to pay the postage on online purchases from small local independent shops, similar to the Eat Out To Help Out scheme launched over the summer.
“This will make them a more viable option for people hunting for Christmas gifts and encourage people to shop locally from home. Without action many shops could be forced to close forever, the UK Government must step in and help level the playing field.”
Mike Cherry, National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:
"This is the type of creative idea that would boost small businesses and balance out the playing field.
"We must do everything we can to help our small, independent stores.
“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.
"That's why we must pull out all the stops to help them survive the end of 2020 and beyond."