#RAISETHEBAR Official Open Letter – seven weeks to save the nation’s high streets

By May 12, 2020NEWS

Dear Mr Sunak and Mr Sharma

In light of the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on 10th May 2020, I am writing to you on behalf the #RaiseTheBar campaign and 100,000 retail, hospitality and leisure businesses across England and Wales that have closed their doors for over 50 days in order to support the need for the public to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. Businesses are still no clearer as to how the Government will support them during a time of extended closure.

Since we first wrote to you on 21 April 2020, the #RaiseTheBar campaign has received significant cross-party support including that of 86 fellow Conservative MPs who issued a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 1st May 2020. The #RaiseTheBar campaign is further supported by industry leaders, 95 Business Improvement Districts and with our Change.org petition securing over 12,000 signatures so far.

The retail, hospitality and leisure sectors contribute £635 billion to the national economy, employing over 5.3 million people in pubs, shops, restaurants, galleries, arts venues, cafes, clubs, bars and hotels. These businesses are equally as important within the supply chains they operate in. The threat to these businesses has an immediate, detrimental impact to the rest of the supply chain, placing other businesses and livelihoods at risk including food and drink suppliers, logistics, maintenance and cleaning services.

We are calling on the Government to provide a lifeline to tens of thousands of businesses who must responsibly stay closed until at least 1 July 2020 by making the following amendment to the Retail Hospitality and Leisure Grant [RHLG]:

To expand the business rates 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 further businesses the opportunity to access the £25,000 grant

The cost of offering this financial lifeline, assuming all 54,638 businesses applied for the grant is calculated at £1.365 billion.

The framework to support 54,638 businesses in England and Wales has already been formulated with the mechanism to issue these grants in place through the local authorities. Whether our request of funding forms part of an amendment to the first wave of funding or within a second wave of funding, we respectfully ask that you consider our request to offer these businesses a lifeline.

Supported by UKHospitality, British Beer and Pub Association, The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Greater London Authority, London Chamber of Commerce, BID Foundation, British BIDs, Association of Town and City Management (ATCM), Croydon Council, Night Time Industries Association, Music Venue Trust, Association of Convenience Stores, British Pub Confederation and  Cocktail Pub Company, we implore you to save the nation’s high streets by increasing the rateable value threshold to £150k and in the process offering 54,638 businesses a fighting chance of survival.

Yours sincerely

Matthew Sims, Chief Executive

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