British retailers appeal to government for assistance as the omicron crisis escalates

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Croydon Business Improvement District (BID), is leading the Business Booster campaign to request government support for the leisure, retail and hospitality sectors “before it’s too late”.

Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, received a letter urging him to support critical financial assistance. It was signed on behalf over 100 destinations and 100,000 companies.

This comes as the number of cases for the new covid-19 variety, omicron continues to rise, and retailers are facing significant disruptions after the implementation by the government’s Plan B (December 8). The new regulations include the requirement to wear face masks in public places, the use of a covid card when entering certain locations and a recommendation for working from home.

There has been increasing speculation about tighter measures, as the government is set to review restrictions on Dec 29. As uncertainty about Christmas continues to affect the trading period, the Business Booster campaign asked for reassurance.

Matthew Sims, CEO of Croydon BID, and founder of the Business Booster campaign said, “It’s baffling, alarming, and that our chancellor is stubbornly sticking to measures that are out of date, out of touch, and in touch with the stark, desperate reality retail, leisure, and hospitality are facing. Many businesses will face closures, layoffs, and cutbacks without swift intervention. This is despite the substantial financial support that the Government provided during the pandemic. It is a terrible waste of money.”

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In a letter to the prime Minister, three overlaying requests were made. Each request was intended to assist UK businesses in the recovery from restrictions and survival of another possible lockdown.

The first appeal was for a 100 per cent Business Rate Relief package, which would be effective until March 31st. After that, it asked for a 50 per cent relief package to help with recovery. It was noted that the 25 percent current package was intended for a post-covid situation, and that increased restrictions and omicron have had an impact on the recovery process, which prompted the need for additional government support.

Another request was for an extension of the current VAT reduction for hospitality sector (from 12.5 percent to 31 March 2023). This extension could allow the sector to respond to the surge in consumer confidence and help support the reemergence of the UK economy.

The final proposal in the letter was to provide 15,000 pound grants at rateable value to the sector to aid in their survival after the disappointing festive trading period, and the impending rent quarter date of December 25.

Croydon BID also proposed the creation of a Discretionary Grant Fund, up to 7,500 pound per claim, for freelancers or the self-employed community. This will ensure that it is well supported.

BIDs across the UK, The New West End Company, and other organizations related to the sector in question supported the letter.

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