Government response

Reaction to BHS announcement

Business Minister Anna Soubry responds to the BHS announcement.

In response to the news today (2 June 2016) regarding BHS, Business Minister Anna Soubry said:

Today’s announcement that the administrators have been unable to find a buyer for the business will be devastating news for all those who work at BHS and those in the supply chain. The government stands ready to support workers to find new jobs as quickly as possible.

The Business Secretary has already announced an accelerated Insolvency Service investigation into the activity of former BHS directors. Any issues of misconduct will be taken extremely seriously.

Notes to editors

This was a decision made by the administrators.

It is the administrators’ role to consider potential bids for the business. The government cannot influence this as it is a legal process.

They are independent and their responsibilities are to the body of creditors of the company, not the government.

Job Centre Plus has been in contact with the administrators, and will work with them to support people through its Rapid Response Service. This is a service with a strong record of helping people at a very distressing time.

This service is tailored to individuals’ needs and can include some or all of the following:

  • help with job searches, including CV writing and interview skills
  • help to identify transferable skills and skills gaps, linked to the local labour market
  • training to update skills, learn new ones and gain industry recognised certification that will improve employability
  • help to overcome barriers to attending training, securing a job or self-employment, such as childcare costs, tools, work clothes and travel costs

On Business Secretary investigation

The Insolvency Service would normally wait for the conclusion of the administrator’s final report before commencing any investigation into a company entering administration. However, given the unique circumstances surrounding the BHS case, the Business Secretary has instructed the Insolvency Service to commence the investigation as soon as possible.

Should the investigation conclude that one or more present or former directors have been involved in any misconduct, an application may be made to a court to ask that they be disqualified from acting as a director for a period between 2 and 15 years depending on the nature of their misconduct.

Where conduct for which a person was disqualified took place subsequent to 1 October 2015 and caused a loss to creditors, an application could also be made to a court for an order that compensation be made for losses incurred.

Support for the retail sector

We are cutting corporation tax to 17% in 2020, the lowest of any major economy, benefitting over a million companies.

At Budget 2016 we announced the biggest ever cut in business rates, worth £6.7 billion, which will benefit 900,000 properties including retailers.

From next year, small and medium size retailers will be permanently supported by a more generous Small Business Rates Relief and from being taken out of the higher rate of business rates. Some of the smallest retailers will not pay business rates again.

From 2020, all retailers will benefit from our change to how business rates are increased for inflation. This change will be worth £370 million a year to business 2021 alone and growing significantly thereafter.

We have lifted thousands of businesses out of paying National Insurance Contributions and introduced the highest ever permanent level of Annual Investment Allowance to support business investment.

UK is the no.1 destination in Europe for foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail, and the second largest source of outward retail.

UKTI’s recent inward investment strategy on retail assisted over 750 businesses and helped deliver around £500 million of value to the UK economy.

This government is proud of its record of supporting British businesses, workers and communities.