Small retail businesses are being offered up to £3,000 each by the Government to upgrade their security measures.
The £5m Retail Crime Action Plan includes cash for alarm systems, metal grills and other anti-theft devices, as well as banknote-testing kits to help retailers reduce the risk of crime during the economic downturn.
Home Office minister Alan Campbell said: “Small businesses play a vital role in our communities, and I am determined to ensure they are not taken advantage of during these hard times by providing support where it is most needed.”
The drive to clamp down on retail crime will be welcomed by most indies, especially new or younger businesses.
British Shops and Stores Association professional services director Bob Jarrett said: “Anything that contributes to the security of small independents has to be welcomed. My only concern is what the conditions might be. The other issue that needs to be considered is implications in terms of business rates. There is a possibility that having heightened security could cost retailers more in business rates.”
Craig Benson, co-founder of contemporary womenswear indie Black Orchid in Stamford, Lincolnshire, which sells brands including Adini and Masai Clothing Company, said: “It’s too late for us - we have CCTV and an alarm system. It’s good for new businesses though. We’ve noticed that people who may have bought something in the past are likely to consider it [theft] if they are hard up, but staff awareness is the best deterrent.”
Details of the grants will be announced later this month. To find out more about the fund, visit www.homeoffice.gov.uk.