‘Grocers like the Co-op should not be vilified for holding on to rates relief’

Luke-Tugby-2020_SQUARE

Before making this point, let’s be perfectly clear: I was among those who expected the Co-op to repay its business rates relief this week.

In the build-up to its full-year results on Thursday, it appeared odds-on that a business that prides itself on its values, its work in communities and doing things ‘the Co-op way’ would bow to mounting pressure and hand back the cash given to it by the government during the coronavirus crisis.

I was as surprised as anyone when the mutual instead said that it would hand back the £15.5m it received from the government through the furlough scheme, but not the tens of millions in additional support it has been given in business rates relief since the start of the pandemic last March.  

Surprised? Yes. Angry? Certainly not.

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