The Fleet Business Improvement District (BID) has called for more business support to ensure businesses can survive. The recent announcement of government support is targeted mainly at one sector and does not go far enough. It demonstrates a lack of understanding of the pressures facing high street businesses.
The announcement of Plan B restrictions on 8th December 2021 and subsequent speculation has had a devastating impact on our local businesses. The critical Christmas trading period is in tatters leaving many businesses on the brink of financial ruin and set to lose £4bn in sales nationally. While we appreciate risks to health due to the Omicron variant, we cannot and should not forget the businesses who want to continue trading safely but have been effectively shut down.
Tyler Harman chair of Fleet BID says, “As a retailer in the town the last two years have been incredibly tough. Despite the amazing support from our local community, several businesses have closed their doors. For those who have made it so far we were hoping that this Christmas would see a return to some sort of normality. However, the drop in consumer confidence caused by the Government announcements and constant speculation means the survival of many businesses is in the balance. The financial support offered does not go far enough. It also shows a lack of understanding of how high streets work with successful high streets needing all sectors to thrive.”
Fleet BID is backing calls for the Government to provide a #BusinessBooster package of financial support for businesses in the retail, hospitality personal care and leisure sectors, as well as sectors that rely on hospitality, such as taxis. This includes:
- BUSINESS RATES RELIEF: 100% Business Rates Relief for up to and including 31st March 2022 followed by a 50% Business Rate Relief from 1st April 2022 to 30th June 2022. The current Business Rates Relief was designed for an open economy, post Covid. The rise of the Omicron variant, increased restrictions and their impact on our high street require a response from Government that mirrors lockdown support.
- VAT EXTENSION: extend the current VAT reduction for the hospitality sector of 12.5% through to 31st March 2023 to allow the sector to respond and support the re-emergence of the UK economy. This should also be extended to the personal care sector who are also reliant on in-person service that cannot be replicated online. This would allow businesses to achieve cost savings and, most importantly of all for the economy and consumer confidence, not to pass increased costs on allowing for the economy to recover once more in Spring 2022.
- PROVIDE GRANTS: introduce grants up to £15,000 by rateable value to enable these businesses 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.