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Liverpool BID adds signature to letter demanding PM to support businesses disrupted by Omicron variant

2 years ago

By The Guide Liverpool

Liverpool BID adds signature to letter demanding PM to support businesses disrupted by Omicron variant

Liverpool BID Company’s CEO, Bill Addy, has added his signature to a letter sent to the PR and Chancellor this morning demanding additional support for the hospitality, retail and leisure industries of the UK who are being hit by the disruption caused by the Omicron variant.

The letter, which I’ve copied and pasted below, has three core demands for support for the sector to help it survive.

 – 100% cap on business rates relief until 31 March 2022
 – Reduced rate of VAT to12.5%
 – Grants of 15k to support businesses. 

The festive period and Q4 counts for 50% of typical takings for a business in this sector. many risk sinking if no support comes while the “stealth lockdown” continues.

Omicron Variant

BIDs are also calling on the Government to have a greater understanding of how the impact is being felt on the ground in towns and cities across the country.

Footfall in Liverpool city centre in the final two weeks of November was 1.4m a week. In the first two weeks of December it has dropped to 1.2m a week. The first week of December was down -24% on 2019, the benchmark year we are taking to track the impact of Covid.

Read the full letter below

Dear Prime Minister,

RE: Give a #BusinessBooster to save our high streets, towns and city centres from extinction  

We are writing to you on behalf of over 100 destinations across the UK and 100,000 retail, hospitality  and leisure businesses to urge Government to provide a #BusinessBooster and urgent assurances that  financial support will be provided to these sectors.

It is imperative that the Government acts quickly by offering financial assistance and other necessary  interventions to those experiencing disruption following rising cases of the Omicron variant and the  impact of “Plan B” measures. With consumer confidence expected to drop below its current level of  -15 amid growing speculation of an impending lockdown, the time for action is now.

There is clearly growing concern of a lockdown following the announcement of Plan B restrictions on  8th December 2021 which must be reviewed on 29th December 2021, two days prior to New Year’s  Eve. Businesses need certainty with many holding on to the glimmer of hope that New Year may  bring.

The critical Christmas trading period is in tatters leaving businesses, particularly those within the  hospitality, retail and leisure sector teetering on the brink of financial ruin and set to lose £4bn in sales.  While we appreciate risks to health due to the Omicron variant, we cannot and should not forget the  businesses who have all but been shut down and want to continue trading safely.

Hospitality is the UK’s third largest sector, employing 3.2million people [10% of the UK workforce] and  produces £130 billion of economic activity. These sectors are vital to our economic recovery and the  current measures in place aren’t working and here is why:

  • Business Rate Relief of 25%

Why it isn’t working

Businesses are now paying full  rent whilst experiencing mass  cancellations in what has  been dubbed by the sector  as a “stealth lockdown” with  a more detrimental impact  than previous tiered  restrictions.

What is needed

We are calling for 100% business rate relief for the first  three months of 2022 up to  31st March 2022. [no cap]

After which, we are asking for  the Government to put in  place 50% Business Rate Relief  from 1stApril 2022 through to  30th June 2022 [no cap].

The current package of 25%  Business Rate Relief was designed for an open economy, post Covid. The rise of the Omicron variant, increased restrictions and  their impact on hospitality,  leisure and retail require a response from Government  that mirrors lockdown support.

  • Reduced rate of VAT at 12.5%

Why it isn’t working 

Businesses need to achieve  cost savings wherever possible, and many operators  need VAT to remain low to ensure the increased cost isn’t  passed onto the consumer as  the economy begins to recover again in Spring 2022.

What is needed

The VAT reduction should be  extended through to the 31  March 2023 at 12.5% to allow  the hospitality, retail and  leisure sector to respond and  support the re-emergence of  the UK economy.

  • £250 million unspent in grants  with local authorities.

[Additional Restrictions Grant  etc]

Why it isn’t working 

Each local authority across the UK will have varying levels  of funding and grant residue remaining.

The inconsistencies in level of  grant would place disproportionate pressure on  businesses simply because of  their location.

This means vast swathes of  businesses would not receive  a penny.

What is needed

We are calling on the Government to introduce  grants up to £15,000 by rateable value to businesses  within the hospitality, retail  and leisure sector to enable  them to survive in light of a  festive trading period in  tatters, a bleak outlook for the  new Year and the impending  rent quarter date of 25th December 2021.

In addition to the measures recommended, we are seriously concerned that the freelance and self employed community which upends the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors have so far during the  pandemic been largely overlooked. We therefore propose the introduction of a Discretionary Grant  Fund of up to £7,500 per claim that will ensure this community is appropriately supported.

We represent one of the largest networks of businesses across the United Kingdom. Business  improvement Districts alongside our partners including UKHospitality, British Beer and Pub Association  and Night Time Industries Association are clear that action must come forward now to prevent a  catastrophic chain reaction to the future of our economy.

We would urge you, your Government, MPs from all sides of the aisle to consider carefully the impact  and potential loss to the economy if no action is taken to prevent the crisis we now all face  economically.

We understand that business groups are being invited to share insights to Government, and  proposed this is extended to the Business Improvement District industry. This will provide you with the  opportunity to learn of the challenges town and city centres are currently facing, and work  collaboratively together on suitable solutions during this challenging time.

In doing so, we hope this will provide greater clarity and the need to consider how the Government  might support these sectors further.

We appreciate the pressures facing Government economically but failing to act not only see  thousands of businesses go to the wall but the real prospect that billions of previously allocated  Government funds going to waste simply because we did not act to save our economy.

I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Yours sincerely

Omicron Variant

Matthew Sims

Omicron VariantChristopher Turner

Omicron Variant Ojay MacDonald

Omicron VariantBill Addy CEO

Amy Lame Michael Kill

Omicron Variant

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