City Corporation Policy Chair Catherine McGuinness has today called on the Government to provide “much needed” support to SMEs.
In a letter to the Chancellor, the Policy Chair said City small businesses need grant funding based upon the number of businesses within an area; full business rate relief for the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors to be reintroduced until March 2022; and an extension of the VAT relief for hospitality, accommodation, and certain attractions beyond March 2022.
In the letter, McGuinness wrote, “The fresh restrictions announced last week are a disappointment to businesses in the Square Mile, with Christmas trading seriously compromised with little notice for many City shops, restaurants, pubs and other businesses that rely on footfall from workers in nearby offices.
“While we understand the need to introduce the Government’s COVID-19 ‘Plan B’ guidance, we are concerned about the impact the new measures will have on these businesses who rely on office-worker footfall. We believe that some businesses which have survived so far, may even fail.
“The City is unique as a large number of our businesses depend on office-based footfall. We have a small resident population of 9,000, but pre-pandemic, the weekday population grew to circa 500,000 office workers.
“This was returning in recent times, but the new restrictions have already shown a drop in footfall and will damage hospitality and related SME trade in the City.
“Therefore, we call upon the Government to provide much needed support for affected businesses and workers in this difficult time.”