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Supermarkets to payback £1.7bn of Covid-19 business rate relief

Supermarkets to payback £1.7bn of Covid-19 business rate relief
03.12.2020
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ASDA has announced it will be returning business rate relief from the government it follows Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Aldi.

Collectively the UK’s biggest supermarkets will return more than £1.7bn.

Supermarkets, whose sales have boomed in the crisis, have been criticised for taking government help while paying dividends to shareholders.

Asda said its costs of dealing with Covid had outweighed any state support.

But its president and chief executive, Roger Burnley, said: “As the hope of a vaccine and a more ‘normal’ life returning in 2021 grows, we have confidence that we are in a strong position to again do the right thing for the communities we serve.”

Earlier on Thursday, Sainsbury’s said it would hand back £440m of rates relief it had received, followed by Aldi which pledged to repay £100m.

They follow Tesco and Morrisons, who promised to repay £850m between them.

Both Sainsbury’s and Aldi said the decision reflected the fact they had been allowed to stay open in lockdown while non-essential shops had to close.

Labour said big supermarkets had “done the decent thing” but urged the government to pass on the £1.7bn handed back already to hard-hit businesses such as pubs and restaurants operating under the new tier system.

The Treasury said any funds returned would “support the ongoing efforts to protect people’s jobs and incomes”.

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