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While today’s £350 help package for households is welcome, independent retailers are calling on it to be extended to help small businesses struggling amid rocketing costs.

NFRN National President Narinder Randhawa said: “Independent retailers kept Britain going during the lockdown but now it is essential that the government helps us.

“Our 11,000 members are facing a string of cost hikes in April, with increases to minimum wage rates and national insurance contributions, the reintroduction of business rates, and now rocketing gas and electricity bills.

“To satisfy customer demand and to keep everyone safe, our members’ stores contain chillers, freezers, EPoS, bright lighting and CCTV.   As each year passes, it becomes increasingly difficult to cut these costs.

“Members in town and city centre locations have also seen footfall drop during the lockdown and as workers continue to resist calls to go back to the office.”

Mr Randhawa continued: “We will be writing to Rishi Sunak to ask hm not to turn his back on independent retailers and to give us help and support as our bills rocket.”

Earlier today (February 3) the Chancellor announced a payment of £350 to help UK households cope with a rise in energy bills. His move came as Ofgem revealed that the new energy bill price cap will rise by 54 per cent per cent from April. This means energy prices will rise by £693 a year for millions of households after regulator Ofgem hiked the price cap on bills to £1,971.

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