Dear primemLast week the London Covid Business Forum came together to discuss the Government’s roadmap out of the lockdown.
The Letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson is signed by Sadiq Khan, with British Beauty Council CEO Millie Kendall MBE being one of the other signatories.
The Letter reads:
“Dear Prime Minister,
Last week the London Covid Business Forum came together to discuss the Government’s roadmap out of the lockdown.
We welcome the roadmap, which provides more information for Londoners about what the next few months may look like if we continue to make progress in reducing the spread of the virus. The health of individuals and the health of our businesses are intertwined.
It is important that lessons are learnt from previous lockdowns and we are committed to doing everything in our power to support businesses to survive this crisis and to ensure that London maintains its global pre-eminence as a centre for international business, culture and tourism. To give London’s businesses the best chance of being able to survive, recover and reopen when it’s their turn, they need ongoing support, more detail, and further reassurance now.
For many businesses which fall into the latter timeline of the roadmap, any semblance of reopening in an economically viable way is still many months away. As the beginning of the new financial year approaches, businesses are making decisions now about the future of their businesses, including making decisions that directly impact their employees.
We therefore urge you to immediately prioritise the following urgent steps:
- Continue business support for as long as social distancing restrictions remain in place;
- Confirm the continuation of the furlough scheme;
- Confirm an extension to the business rates holiday for retail, leisure, childcare, and hospitality businesses, that was due to end in March 2021 to end of 2021;
- Confirm an extension to the reduced 5% VAT rate for hospitality, holiday accommodation and attractions, currently due to end 31 March 2021 to end of 2021.
The Central Activities Zone (CAZ) acts as the engine room to the city. The safe reopening of Central London will be fundamental to the long-term future prosperity of the capital. London has always benefitted from huge levels of both domestic and international tourism – but that has virtually dried up due to the pandemic.
Recent analysis showed that over the course of 2020 visitors from overseas and the rest of the UK spent nearly £11 billion less than in 2019. Last week, the Mayor announced a proposal to invest a further £5m to support the reopening of central London. This will include a brand-new drive to attract Londoners and UK tourists back to hard-hit retail, hospitality and cultural venues.
London’s vital visitor attractions have not been able to benefit from the majority of 2020’s bank holidays. To make the most of the gradual reopening through the spring and summer, the GLA and key stakeholders are working towards building key moments of activation that showcase central London’s public spaces and cultural icons.
To give the biggest boost to the economy and to maximise on the opportunity of reopening, we are calling on the Government to:
- Invest in the city centre recovery with, at a minimum, match funding the Mayor’s £5m investment into reopening the London economy.
Agree to an additional bank holiday in September, as proposed by industry organisations such as the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.
We all stand ready to work alongside you to ensure that London once again returns to its pre-pandemic levels of prosperity.
Mayor of London
Vice President & Vice Principal (London), King’s College London
Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Director of Strategy & Policy, London First
Director, Association of Leading Visitor Attractions
Regional Secretary, TUC London, East and South East
London Policy Chair, FSB
Millie Kendall MBE
Chief Executive Officer, British Beauty Council
Chief Executive Officer, Night Time Industries Association
Professor Angus Knowles-Cutler CC FRSA
Deputy Chair, the London Economic Action Partnership
Beer & Pub
Policy Chair, City of London Corporation
Chief Executive, Heart of London Business Alliance
Chief Executive, UKHospitality
Caroline Norbury MBE
Chief Executive, Creative Industries Federation
Chief Executive Officer, Camden Town Unlimited & Chair, Transition Board Business Reopening Strategy Group
Sir Peter Rogers
Chairman, New West End Company
Chief Executive, Croydon Town Centre Business Improvement District Ltd”
Read the letter here.