Many York firms are under ‘extreme pressure’ – and now city business leaders are urging the government to save them by expanding the crucial grant support scheme.
The York BID (Business Improvement District) has backed the #RaiseTheBar campaign, calling on ministers to expand the rateable value threshold on grant funding for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses from £51,000 to £150,000.
This would allow many more businesses access to a £25,000 grant – and stop thousands across the UK from going under.
York has a particularly vibrant retail, hospitality and leisure sector. But these shops, pubs, clubs, restaurants, hotels and leisure businesses have been hit hard by the coronavirus emergency – and will face distinct challenges when lockdown is ended with social distancing of some description likely.
York BID’s executive director Andrew Lowson said:
Government support has been greatly appreciated by businesses in York, but we are hearing from those above the £51k threshold that they feel excluded.
These businesses are not large companies. In York, one example is a public house; the other a boutique chocolate making facility.
York is heavily reliant on its food and hospitality sector and with concerns over post lockdown visitor numbers being severely reduced, support for these businesses is deemed essential.
A petition calling on ministers to increase the cap has more than 10K signatures.
‘Huge void on our high streets’
Sophie Jewett, from York Cocoa Works on Castlegate, is one such business just above the current threshold.
She said: “We have had to diversify quickly and creatively to adjust to the new trading environment in a way that’s sustainable. Like many other businesses, we still have ongoing costs that require payment.
“The pressures on business are extreme which is why raising the threshold would bring greater collective support for businesses that form an integral part of their communities.
“I am hopeful that we will figure it out, we are very determined, but I am fearful that many other businesses are in danger of burning out, leaving a huge void on our high streets and communities.”
BIDs across the country have backed the campaign calling on the Chancellor to change the rules and support the many firms who miss out due to being over the £51K threshold.
More than 54,000 businesses across England and Wales are currently unable to access the £25K grant.
High Street firms face an eight-week countdown until the quarterly rent falls due on 24 June, meaning action is needed now to allow more businesses access to the grant.
Started by Croydon BID, the #RaiseTheBar campaign is gathering momentum. Last week 86 Conservative MPs wrote to the Chancellor calling for the business rates threshold to be increased.
Read more on the campaign website.