Small firms 'should get taxpayer-funded free postage' to help them survive, Lib Dems say

Rishi Sunak must "level the playing field" for small businesses competing with giants like Amazon by covering their postage fees, the Lib Dems have claimed.

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine has written to the Chancellor calling for him to provide extra support to shops over the festive period.

The party’s Treasury spokeswoman Christine Jardine has written to the Chancellor calling for him to provide extra support to shops hit by the coronavirus pandemic over the festive season.

Ms Jardine wants the UK Government to cover postage for online orders from independent shops to make them more favourable destinations for present buying.

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She said: “So many gift shops and retailers across Edinburgh, and elsewhere, have been hit hard by the Covid-19 restrictions and now their major market of the year could also be undermined by the competition from huge retailers who can cater for the fact that many people have to shield or are uncomfortable going into shops.

“The Chancellor has already acted once to support the hospitality industry and now we hear that there may be a second winter Eat Out to Help Out scheme, so why are we not hearing that he is going to do the same for retailers?

“So many people are being left behind in this when we should be doing more to support the three million excluded, helping our independent shops provide online services and making sure that we have the facilities that our communities will need to recover from this pandemic.”

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The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) welcomed the "creative idea" to help firms survive.

FSB national chairman Mike Cherry warned "we must pull out all the stops" to help small businesses survive.

He said: "This is the type of creative idea that would boost small businesses and balance out the playing field.

"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 insisted its "comprehensive package" of support so far had helped to "provide a lifeline to millions of small businesses".

A spokesman said: "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.

"We keep our support under constant review and are committed to helping people and businesses through this crisis."

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