The City of London’s local authority welcomed the government’s announcement that “Freedom Day” will go ahead next week, helping the capital to bounce back from the pandemic.
Catherine McGuinness, the City of London Corporation’s policy chair, said: “This is a light at the end of the tunnel for the many City businesses desperate to return to work and bounce back from months of lost trading.
“We urgently need our economy to thrive to promote a strong sustainable recovery and help pay for the vast amount of support provided since the pandemic began,” she added.
London businesses received more than £16bn through the government’s two largest Covid-19 support schemes during the pandemic – about 20 per cent of the national total.
As part of these schemes, nearly 321,000 loans worth £10.8bn were provided across London under the Bounce Bank Loan Scheme (BBLS).
This programme gives businesses a six-year term loan from £2,000 up to 25 per cent of a business’ turnover, with a limit of £50,000.
A further 16,500 loans worth more than £5.5bn have been provided across London under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), which aimed to give firms with a turnover less than £45m up to £5m in support.
The City of London Corporation previously called for office workers and visitors to return to the Square Mile in April to help boost economic activity, after a year of near-desertion due to the government’s “work from home if you can” pandemic guidance.
This guidance is due to end as of Monday next week, when the decision about whether and when to return to the office will be in individual businesses’ hands.
Now that the government has confirmed the easing will go ahead as planned, McGuiness said the City’s local authority was looking forward to the safe return of city workers, “who will help restore vibrancy to our streets.”
Almost three-quarters of London businesses are planning a return to the office by September, according to a recent survey by Addison Lee.
Of the 142 firms asked by the taxi firm, 74 per cent said that they would be making a return to their workplace over the coming months.
More than half of these (51 per cent) said that they would do so by 30 June.