News Plea For Rates Holiday For Boarders And Groomers

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Plea for rates ‘holiday’ for boarders and groomers
23rd March 2020

By Karen Pickwick

The Pet Industry Federation has written to the Chancellor asking him to bring boarding kennels, catteries, commercial daycare and pet groomers within the list of businesses eligible for the new emergency business rates ‘holiday’, which currently applies to the retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery sectors.

In the letter to Rishi Sunak, PIF chief operating officer Alexandra Baker says the ‘vast majority’ of the trade association’s members are small and medium-sized enterprises, which are experiencing ‘unprecedented challenges' in the face of the covid-19 outbreak. 

“This is particularly acute for our members in the pet boarding sector (kennels, catteries and commercial dog daycare businesses), as they have received a huge drop-off in the number of bookings and wholesale cancellations because of the collapse in holidays and breaks being taken by people during the current crisis; and the move from office working to home working for many dog owners.

PERILOUS

“It’s not just existing bookings that have been wiped out; peoples’ inevitable reluctance to commit to any holidays at present means that no future bookings are being made, which makes the long-term situation for these businesses even more perilous.”

Alex says pet groomers operating from high street salons are also reporting a ‘large-scale decrease’ in bookings as people self-isolating or looking to save money have cancelled appointments. ”

One business, for example, posted on Facebook: “Total nightmare – so far we have a 90% cancellation rate. Contacted the local council to see if we can apply for a hardship fund on business rates and still after three days have not had a reply! Trying desperately to keep staff employed but at this rate we won’t be trading by summer!”

And another said: “We’re aware that so many in our community are vulnerable and suffering. We’re going through the biggest financial crisis that our business has faced in our six years. We’ve had so many cancellations that we have now lost over £5,000 worth of bookings [as of last week].”

SURVIVAL

Alex told the Chancellor in her letter: “Many of these businesses are having to lay staff off currently to give their enterprise ‘any chance of survival’ beyond the virus outbreak. Reports received from PIF members indicate that some of these businesses will simply not be able to exist for much longer.

“Yet it is crucial that they do survive, because their services are of vital importance for pet owners who will once again want to rely on them when the country returns to normality.” 

PIF says pet boarding is an ‘essential allied business to the leisure industry’ and exists primarily because people go on holiday and need to find somewhere safe and secure to leave their pet.

SUPPORT

“We believe that their services should fall into the same category as hotels, guest and boarding premises. In addition, we believe therefore that any services underpinning pet ownership, such as pet grooming, should be considered in the same way as businesses who provide services to visiting members of the public, such as hair and beauty salons.” 

Alex said Government support ‘could make the different between survival and bankruptcy for many of these small businesses’. 

“The Pet Industry Federation therefore urges the Government to consider amending the guidance on this the business rates holiday and extend the eligible business types to include commercial pet boarding accommodation, including daycare and high street pet grooming salons.”