The Green Party has called for additional measures to support small businesses that have suffered heavy losses during the coronavirus pandemic, ahead of Small Business Saturday this weekend.
As small companies across the country struggle to keep afloat due to the pandemic, the Greens have called for a five point plan to help them keep going:
- Extend the business rate holiday into 2021/22 for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with the UK government providing compensation to local authorities for loss of income. As business rates are devolved in Wales, we also call on the Welsh Government to do the same.
- Increase the amount of support for small businesses who have had to close during lockdown and expand the criteria for those eligible. The current payments offer a derisory £1,300 a month for those with a rateable value of £15,000, which for a lot of small businesses will not even cover rent.
- Widen the amount of support for small businesses who have stayed open, such as nurseries, but are struggling due to the additional costs of Covid, through an additional discretionary grant for councils to administer.
- Grant 15% of government contracts to small and micro businesses and revise the government contract application process to remove the current barriers for entry to small business.
- Extend the current tourism VAT cut through 2021 and expand by applying to food and drink served in pubs, bars and restaurants, on hotel bookings and on theatre, music concert and museum and gallery tickets. This should form part of a process to review our VAT system outside the EU so that it differentially supports smaller shops compared to larger and online shops.
Green Party Councillor Martin Love, said:
“Small businesses make such a huge contribution to our local economy here in Bradford and if we want to see our city centre remain a vibrant destination we need to offer them more support.
“Bradford Council has already rolled out some support for small businesses but the level of support that many small businesses need will require more funding and support from the government.
“This year, we have already lost many small businesses and many more have been left fighting for survival as a result of the pandemic. It is vital that the government steps up its support for these businesses which so many people rely on.
“The Green Party’s five point plan would ensure many more are able to carry on providing their essential services that contribute so much to their communities and keeps money local, rather than letting it be eaten up by multinationals and swooshed off to the nearest tax haven.”
The Green Party has highlighted that the financial support being offered so far is just not good enough. Earlier this week it was reported that one pub owner said that the support being offered didn’t even begin to cover the costs of the disruption, especially in December – typically one of their busiest months).
He said, “Small businesses contribute to our economy far more than big businesses. Large corporations tend to employ staff on minimum wage contracts, pay the bare minimum tax and will shut up shop the moment things start to go sour. But the support being offered to small businesses by the government so far is just not enough.”
“2020 has shown us that our high streets can’t rely on big names like Debenhams, Topshop, Laura Ashley and Bonmarche all of which have gone into administration. That is why we need to support our small independent retailers who are the lifeline for many high streets and communities.
“I have talked to retailers on Tong Street who have done such an amazing job this year keeping going but they need more financial support to keep going into 2021.”