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Eight Weeks to Save the Nation’s High Streets

UK High Streets are on the brink of collapse as the eight-week countdown to the next quarterly rent instalment begins today, according to the #RaiseTheBar campaign.

Figures released today by #RaiseTheBar show 54,638 businesses from pubs to shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, galleries and gyms are currently unable to access the £25,000 RHLG grant due to their business rates valuation falling between £51,000 – £150,000.

As part of the RHLG guidance, only those in the retail, hospitality, leisure sectors with a rateable value of up to £51,000 can access the vital grant, leaving tens of thousands of businesses stranded. The #RaiseTheBar campaign, launched on 21 April 2020, is calling on the Government to raise the arbitrary £51,000 business rates threshold cap to £150,000, allowing over 54,638 businesses in these sectors the chance to survive. The campaign has secured cross-party support including:

  • 86 Conservative MPs wrote to the Chancellor on Friday 1 May, in an open letter calling for the business rates threshold to be increased
  • The Shadow Chancellor Rt. Hon. Anneliese Dodds MP has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rt. Hon. Rishi Sunak MP, to bring to his attention the #RaiseTheBar campaign
  • Rt. Hon. Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, committed to discuss the need to increase the business rates threshold with the Chancellor following a question in the daily Government briefing on Monday 27 April

Love Wimbledon is supporting the #RaiseTheBar campaign which believes access to the £25,000 is the difference between survival and bankruptcy for businesses on High Streets across England and Wales. The grant will enable businesses to mitigate significant stock losses and cashflow challenges, including rent, that wage subsidies do not address. Many businesses are not in a position to take on further debt or have serious misgivings about being able to survive the recovery and service loans. Other cash pressures include suppliers, service charges and the cost of re-opening to repurchase stock and ongoing running costs.

“Teokath of London has built up a reputation as one of the best bridal retail shops in the UK. We are about delivering on the dreams of our brides and feel a massive responsibility to making sure they have their once in a lifetime dress. It means everything. Our business is our family, we all live, work and breath it – it’s our passion. With no income, we need access to a grant to pay suppliers and give us the breathing space we need to survive – without it we face the daunting prospect of folding.”

Steve Sotiriou, Teokath of London (Wimbledon)

The #RaiseTheBar campaign estimates a maximum of £1.365bn in Government support is needed to enable the RHLG grant to support all 54,638 businesses falling within a business rates threshold of £51,000 to £150,000.

Matthew Sims, CEO, Croydon BID and co-founder of #RaiseTheBar campaign said, “Access to the RHLG grant is a ticking time bomb for tens of thousands of businesses on our High Streets and in our local communities. There are just eight weeks until rent is due and the prospect of going under is an uncomfortable truth the Government needs to hear and act upon now. The consequences of failing to increase the business rates threshold are too grim to bear.”

Night Czar for the Greater London Authority, Amy Lamé said, “London’s night time economy makes a huge contribution to life in our capital, but so many of these local businesses are under threat because of the impact of the coronavirus. They have rightly closed their doors to play their part in tackling this health crisis, but too many are not being supported by the government despite losing their entire income. It’s essential the Government raises the bar so that these treasured businesses can get the support they need so they are able to open their doors again when the time comes.”

To support the campaign individually whether you work in the sectors or not, you can sign the Petition to show your support. SIGN HERE

 

NOTE TO EDITORS

The #RaiseTheBar campaign was founded by Croydon Business Improvement District and Mr Fox pub in Croydon and launched on 21 April with an open letter to Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

A change.org petition is calling on the public to help save the nation’s High Streets. The petition needs to reach 10,000 signatures to be recognised by Government.

Love Wimbledon Joins #RaiseTheBar Campaign

 

These are unprecedented times for our economy at a local, regional and national level. Industry leaders, political figures and Business Improvement Districts are calling on the Government to support businesses within the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors who have a rateable value of more than £51,000.  

Love Wimbledon is proud to join a #RaiseTheBar campaign being led by Croydon BID, asking Central Government to expand the rateable value threshold for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses from £51,000 to any business with a rateable value up to and including £150,000, allowing businesses the opportunity to access the £25,000 grant in order to survive. Our campaign is supported by industry wide bodies that represent over 100,000 businesses across the UK.  

The retail, hospitality and leisure sector is vital to the UK economy and must be protected at all costs. The retail industry alone generated £394 billion worth of sales in 2019 with 306,655 units across the UK. In 2019, the UK leisure sector reached over £111 billion in sales. The UK hospitality employs over 3.2 million people, that is 11% of UK jobs, making it the third largest sector in the UK, accounting for £130 billion in revenue, 6% of all businesses and 5% GDP.   

In London alone, there are 19,000 businesses with a rateable value of more than £51,000 and therefore with no access to the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant. We believe strongly that the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant provision and, in particular, the threshold of £51,000 to be far too low to provide adequate support to these businesses in their time of need. In raising the threshold to £150,000, over 13,000 businesses in London will benefit.  

Whether these businesses are independent or operating from more than one location, we forget those with a rateable value of £51,000 or more at our peril. Feedback suggests that they are carrying significant stock losses and are still facing immediate cash flow challenges that wage subsidies will not address. Many are not in a position to take on further debt or have serious concerns about being able to survive the recovery. 

To date, 80% of our businesses have been excluded from government loan support schemes due to their size or European Union State Aid rules. These are some of our most adaptable businesses and the economy will need them to stave off the threat of cessation so that they can play their role in rejuvenating the economy and contributing to community wellbeing. 

 

“Our high streets have been adapting over the past few years to the increased demand in leisure and hospitality alongside retail. The high level of the rateable values of these properties needs to be recognised. By increasing thsomewhat arbitrary threshold from £51k to £150k an additional 180 businesses in Wimbledon would be supported, representing 5,600 jobs, around 30% of the employment in the town.”

Helen Clark Bell, Chief Excecutive, Love Wimbledon

 

Matthew Sims, Chief Executive of Croydon BID said: “We acknowledge that by increasing the RHLG threshold up to and including £150,000 will increase the burden on central and local government. This is a price we believe is worth paying to ensure businesses are given the opportunity to become part of the greater push to mobilise our economy, rather than leaving premises empty, growing unemployment with or without the job retention scheme and sectors contracting across the board”.  

Bill Addy, Chief Executive of Liverpool BID and Chair of The BID Foundation said: “We cannot underestimate the importance of our Retail, Hospitality and Leisure sectors and not just to what they bring to our economy but the people that are employed within them. That is why the Business Improvement Districts across the UK are supporting the #RaiseTheBar Campaign in asking Government to increase the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure rateable value threshold from £51k to £150k. In doing so, more business will have access to a £25k grant supporting their fight to survive and to allow them to play their central role in kick-starting our economy.”  

It is obvious that even with an expansion of the cap, that not all businesses will benefit. What we believe to be important is that the grant scheme is reasonably extended as critically, this will help thousands of businesses to adapt to the challenges ahead.   

Our request supported by many industry leaders and businesses will, for most, offer the single biggest difference in their personal commercial fight against this crisis.  

This is a collective campaign designed to support the people that work for and run businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. Across the UK, there are individual, personal concerns and uncertainties surrounding the economy and the effect that COVID-19 will have on them. In amending the rateable value from £51,000 to £150,000, we not only save businesses but we also save jobs.  

 

To support the campaign individually whether you work in the sectors or not, you can visit www.raisethebarcampaign.co.uk and sign up to make a positive change.  Plus, sign the Petition to show your support SIGN HERE

 

Read more about how Love Wimbledon is lobbying for businesses in Wimbledon Town Centre here.

Love Wimbledon Lobbying For You

‘Unprecedented’ a word now so widely used and very pertinent to the challenging environment currently facing businesses in Wimbledon Town Centre and Love Wimbledon BID is committed to supporting you and our community through these times.

Through our conversations and communications with the businesses of Wimbledon, we are working to mitigate the impact of coronavirus and provide businesses with the information and support you need so we are in a strong position for recovery. The support from central government has been extremely prompt and generous but there are some businesses that are not eligible and we are drawing these issues to their attention.

Love Wimbledon is lobbying central government:

  • for London waiting to be applied to the £51k rateable value threshold given the higher rateable values of property in London. This applies to the grants and the business rates support for businesses. We’ve joined the #RaiseTheBar campaign as part of our lobbying efforts.
  • with regards to concessions and sub-lets, often the younger and smaller businesses who are currently not eligible as they do not have a direct relationship with business rates
  • to define the specific categories of businesses to avoid different interpretations of the guidance between local authorities
  • to provide clarity for banks about the CBIL scheme to make it more accessible for businesses

UPDATE: Stephen Hammond MP has raised questions with HM Treasury on the London waiting and expansion of the grants and business rate holiday to include dentists, osteopaths and other services. A response is expected by 4th May.

Love Wimbledon is locally:

  • co-ordinating support for businesses that remain open, facilitating support between businesses and the local community through donations and volunteers
  • maintaining a regular street presence to reduce anti-social activity and also keeping an eye on empty premises
  • working with community groups to accommodate the homeless
  • preparing for the recovery and will be a key driver in re-opening the Town Centre
  • consolidating information from central government
  • communicating with businesses and providing resources such as the checklist for temporarily closing your business, developed with Merton Chamber of Commerce

We are hearing from some businesses that they are using this time to refine their business’ operating procedures and strengthening their marketing. Love Wimbledon can help to point you in the direction of local support, including Reach Out & Connect, a series of webinars hosted by Merton Chamber of Commerce.

Food Delivery Bike Survey

Over the past year or so we have received many complaints from businesses and pedestrians about the proliferation of food delivery bikes gathering in particular locations. Individually the bikes are not a particular issue but collectively they are taking up much needed parking bays and can be intimidating. We realise the bikes are collecting from our businesses and are providing a service to locals and it is important that we don’t undermine this.

Love Wimbledon has been working behind the scenes with Merton Council, Deliveroo and other providers along with the police to find a suitable solution that works for us all. We are in the process of surveying the businesses that use these bikes with a view to identifying a couple of designated areas for the bikes to wait until their next order arrives.

If you are a Wimbledon town centre business who uses food delivery bikes, please send your answers to the below questions to info@lovewimbledon.org  by Monday 4 March.

Which delivery company do you use?

Deliveroo

Just Eat

Uber

Own delivery drivers

Other

 

Roughly, how many home deliveries per week does your business provide?

Under 10

10-25

26-50

51-75

76-100

100+

 

How important do you think Home Delivery will be for your business over the next few years?

Crucial

Very important

Quite important

Neither important or unimportant

Not important at all

 

Merton Council have offered to provide designated areas for delivery bikes to wait thereby resolving the current complaints that we receive. Would you be supportive of this arrangement and work with your providers to encourage them to use these areas?

YES

NO

DON’T KNOW

 

Is there anything else you would like us to consider?

 

Please do get in touch if you have any questions about this, but we hope to be able to have a resolution soon.