In October last year, I launched a campaign with local businesses that called on the Government provide targeted, urgent support to businesses that had been particularly badly hit by the pandemic and lockdown. This ‘We’re Still Viable’ campaign drew attention to the fact that many businesses that have struggled during the coronavirus pandemic are still viable in the long-term but need a helping hand from Government to get through the current crisis.
As part of this campaign, I’ve called on the Government to support struggling local businesses by extending 100% business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses for at least a further 6 months. I’m also calling for this new rates relief to be capped so that support is targeted, as in Labour-run Wales.
So many businesses are struggling at the moment and the Government should be doing all it can to support them through this crisis. These businesses were thriving before the pandemic and are still viable in the long-term but need the breathing space that a targeted business rates holiday would provide.
The hospitality sector has been particularly badly hit by the pandemic, three national lockdowns, local tiered restrictions, and changes to service rules. On Monday, Boris Johnson confirmed that hospitality venues would be permitted to reopen outdoors from April 12 at the earliest but would have to wait at least five weeks before they could begin serving indoors again.
Rishi Sunak took too long to give businesses clarity on support before, which led to avoidable closures and jobs lost. The Chancellor must announce an extension to business rates now, not wait until the Budget and risk even more job losses.
People can support the We’re Still Viable campaign by signing my petition at www.louisehaigh.org.uk/stillviable