Cllr Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning, has written to the Minister of State for Business, urging the Government to commit to providing comprehensive and long term support for local businesses, particularly those in the hospitality sector.
With the Treasury set to receive approximately £2bn from supermarkets and major retailers as they repay the business rates relief received throughout the pandemic, Cllr Waller is urging the Government to use this money to create a COVID Hospitality Recovery Fund. This could be the salvation of the many hospitality venues and the critical supply chain businesses that have been forced to close through the pandemic and are now really struggling.
Whilst this would ease the current finical burden on many of our city’s best-loved businesses, overall increased support is urgently needed for the local business community, including certainty around future funding and increased discretionary funding reflecting the reality facing business owners.
Cllr Andrew Waller, Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning, commented:
“The business rates relief and grants, given to impacted sectors at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, was hugely important in saving many of York’s hospitality businesses and hundreds of jobs. However, months of either closure or extremely tight restrictions on the sector have seen balance sheets reduced almost to breaking point.
“York is well known and proud to be the home of hundreds of historic pubs, which provide thousands of jobs and support the hospitality and tourism sector in the city. It is particularly ‘wet pubs’ that predominantly only sell alcoholic drinks have been left battling for survival during what should be a normally busy and bustling festive period. The one-off support £1,000 grant announced by the Prime Minister earlier last week is a meagre amount for pubs to cover 9 weeks of costs let alone compensate them for the huge loss of business.”
There are 7,000 local businesses in York, which, if the funding provided to the Council by the Government were to be distributed equally, would receive a one-off payment of £600- let alone the thousands of self-employed many of whom have missed out in Government schemes. Whilst not all businesses in the city have been impacted to the same degree there are many facing costs that run up to thousands of pounds every month just to simply cover bills, it is simply impossible for the Council to provide the support necessary to those businesses facing the most challenging winter period in their history.
Cllr Waller further added:
“The business support provided thus far is undeniably welcome, however, the Government support lacks long-term thinking and a plan that would provide clarity to the local business community.
“There is a strong case for continued discretionary funding for businesses in all areas, especially the hardest-hit ones. Businesses need fair and proportionate support that takes the restrictions into account in order to make sure businesses can survive until trading conditions can return to normal. Businesses, particularly those in the hospitality sector, need to immediately see a meaningful package of support that truly reflects the financial hit that the industry is facing.”