Green MP Caroline Lucas wrote in the Metro, asking Rishi Sunak to extend the holiday support awarded to small businesses.
In Brighton and Hove, a popular bakery – Bagelman – has been able to stay partly open due to the business rates holiday. Now, with the support due to end 31 March, they can, like many other small businesses, face ruin.
Pressure on the prime minister to reopen the economy and lift lockdown is high. Those who aren’t willing to wait for the scientific data on the impact of the vaccine rollout, are calling for lifting bans on the hospitality sector by Easter with the rest to follow by end of April.
Small businesses like Bagelman want to be able to reopen fully. But the idea that as soon as they do, businesses will just bounce back overnight is unrealistic. There are some sectors that might see trade back to pre-crisis levels within a few days of re-opening. But for others, it’ll take much longer.’ – Caroline Lucas in The Metro
She added: ‘If small businesses are to survive, they need to be able to plan for the future and for the business rates holiday to be extended for another year. If it isn’t, the hollowing out of our High Streets could accelerate, leaving empty shells at the heart of our communities.’
It is not just in Brighton they are losing small, independent shops that keep the local economy and community running. This is about securing jobs, protecting communities and recognising the social value of high street shops and hospitality venues, all over the country.
‘It may be that local authorities need to start re-imagining high streets as places for people to gather and not just as shopping venues. And in the meantime, small businesses that have tried to weather the coronavirus storm needs to know that the lifeline of a business rates holiday is not going to be snatched away from them in the March budget’