Hopes for a resumption of trading by garden centres before the next bank holiday are withering. So, the HTA is asking growers for evidence to build the case for compensation from Government.
On Thursday, Alan Titchmarsh wrote in the Daily Telegraph that the HTA was hopeful of a go ahead to reopen garden centres within a week. These hopes have now all but disappeared after the 3-week lockdown extension announced on Thursday and discussions with Government on Friday. Although the association and much of the national press continue to press the case.
It seems the best hope now of saving the businesses of growers, garden retailers and landscapers rests with the provision of a compensation fund by Government. The HTA is pushing hard for £250m to be made available, a figure which could rise the longer the lockdown lasts.
Government needs more data
But the Government is still asking for more proof that support it has already offered industry, such as CBIL scheme - the Government backed loan guarantee scheme, is not working for this sector. A recent quote from a cabinet minister was “the only thing that really matters is data”.
In particular the HTA needs to hear from companies: growers, retailers and landscapers, who have encountered problems raising loans from banks.
Your data can be sent in confidence to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Government urged to be more proactive
The HTA is also asking Government why it is not being more proactive in relaxing EU state aid regulations that restrict funding to 50% of the maximum available. But even this is not likely to be enough.
James Barnes, Chairman of the HTA said, “That although changes to this particular aspect of CBILS would help, the scale of stock losses faced by the industry could not all be covered by taking on additional debt. The balance sheets and profitability of the sector could just not withstand this.”