LONDON — The British Fashion Council thinks that the U.K. government could be doing a lot more to support fashion businesses.
That’s why the nonprofit organization will be meeting with government officials this week and laying out a series of requests addressing the challenges faced by industry professionals and business owners at the moment, to encourage further aid, in addition to existing initiatives such as job retention strategies, business interruption loan schemes and deferral of VAT and income tax payments.
Some main issues being addressed are production delays, cancellation of orders and the accumulation of dead stock that won’t be able to be sold at full price when stores reopen.
According to the BFC, designers are facing cancellations by both U.K. and international retailers for spring 2020 stock that was set to arrive in stores this month “leaving [them] with stock that they have paid for but are unable to sell.” That’s why there is an urgent need for funds to financially support businesses receiving canceled orders.
Also, when it comes to new season orders, to keep the cycle going for when customers do start shopping again, the BFC highlights that it is essential to put policies in place that support orders booked so far and about to be delivered, so that designers can have assurance that they can finance the production of new collections, pay their employees and manage the risk of unfulfilled orders, through loan schemes that won’t have to be paid back if retailers don’t honor their contracts.
Designers shouldn’t be made to guarantee sell-throughs either during such fragile economic times, said the BFC.
The organization will also be asking the government to go a step further than offering relief on business taxes, by providing rent relief, which makes for one of the biggest overheads for businesses. At the moment, without an official government mandate for shops to close, insurance cannot kick in for landlords and consequently tenants to be able to receive rate and rent relief.
Freelancers have also been among the groups hit the hardest in the creative industries, with photographers, models and other creatives no longer being hired. To that end, the BFC will be backing the Creative Industries Federation in the U.K. and proposing that the government create a temporary income protection fund of 15 billion pounds to provide all self-employed workers with a monthly income. This will match their average existing earnings over the past three years, capped at average U.K. earnings after the basic rate of income tax.