On a visit to businesses on London’s Piccadilly today the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has warned of the ‘calamitous’ impact of ministers continuing with the plans to reduce financial support for businesses at the end of June despite the continuation of COVID restrictions announced this week.
Under current Government plans businesses face a perfect storm at the end of June of a reduction in the business rates holiday, contributing more to the furlough scheme, and an end to the evictions moratorium while Covid restrictions continue longer than previously expected.
Any reduction in financial support at the end of June, while restrictions continue, could now have dire consequences for jobs and livelihoods, pushing more businesses in sectors such as culture, nightlife and hospitality to the brink of collapse. Today the Mayor is directly appealing to ministers to think again.
According to UK Hospitality, the further delay in the roadmap will cost the hospitality sector £3bn in lost sales across the UK, and put 300,000 jobs in the sector at risk. Strikingly their latest figures show that around a quarter of hospitality venues still remain shut.* Nearly one in five of the UK’s hospitality jobs are based in London – over 10 per cent of London’s employment. In the capital hospitality venues has already seen an average decline in sales of £1.3m since the start of 2020.
Today the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan will visit a number businesses around London’s Piccadilly. Alongside Kate Nicholls (Chief Executive of UK Hospitality), and Ros Morgan (Chief Executive at Heart of London Business Alliance) he is urging the Government to continue with its full package of financial support for businesses beyond the end of June – until the final lifting of restrictions. This includes a further extension to the 100 per cent business rates holiday and the existing furlough scheme.
The area around Piccadilly still has 44 per cent less footfall compared to normal levels in 2019 – whether as a result of office workers still working at home, or the huge drop off in international tourism that will continue throughout the year.
City Hall analysis shows that consumer spending in central London by overseas tourists was £7.4 billion lower throughout 2020, and with restrictions in international travel remaining in place, such huge levels of spending from international visitors are unlikely to return soon. That’s why the Mayor’s first act after his re-election was to launch #LetsDoLondon, the biggest domestic tourism campaign the capital has ever seen, working with organisations from across the capital to encourage visitors back to London’s world-class hospitality, retail, culture and tourism venues.
Whether you’re a Londoner or coming to our city for a holiday, the Mayor continues to urge people to come and experience the very best London’s amazing venues have to offer, making the most of the current opportunity to come for a day out without the queues that international visitors would usually bring.
The Mayor also continues to ask Londoners to show caution when out and about, urging people to wear face coverings on public transport and in indoor settings, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, and maintain social distancing where you can.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said, “It was deeply disappointing that the Prime Minister this week announced an extension of COVID restrictions without a single mention of extending the vital financial support that our businesses need. With so many venues in retail, culture and hospitality already on a financial knife edge the reduction in financial support at the end of this month could now be a calamitous blow to their chances of survival.
“I’m today appealing directly to ministers – it is not too late to think again. Our world-class theatres, cultural venues, bars, shops and restaurants desperately want to welcome back Londoners and tourists safely from across the UK. And we continue to showcase what all our amazing venues have to offer through our #LetsDoLondon campaign.
“But until restrictions are fully lifted, whacking our venues with a large business rates bill and other costs from next month will simply hamper the capital’s chances of recovery.
“Central London remains the engine of the UK’s economy. But there simply won’t be a national economic recovery from COVID if ministers take the survival of London’s unique eco-system of shops, hospitality and world-leading cultural venues for granted.”
Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality, said, “London boasts some of the best pubs, restaurants, hotels and late-night venues in the world. However the past 15 months have had a devastating effect on our sector and the delay in easing restrictions will push many hospitality businesses closer to the cliff edge of failure.
“The delay will cost the whole sector around £3 billion in sales, putting at risk 300,000 jobs, a significant proportion of which will be in London. It will also have a substantial knock-on impact on bookings and footfall throughout the summer and into the autumn. Simply put, if financial support for the sector is not sustained and adjusted, businesses will fail and getting this far will count for nothing.
“The Mayor and the capital’s hospitality sector are doing all they can to attract Londoners and visitors back and signal that the city is open for business. Hospitality is desperate to get back to doing what it does best and can play a key role in London’s economic revival but only with the right support and once it is given permission to trade freely.”