London calls for more support for businesses as ‘Freedom day’ pushed back
London’s businesses and politicians have called for more financial support after Boris Johnson delayed the end of the Covid-19 restrictions for four weeks.
Speaking at a press conference this evening, the Prime Minister said that 19 July was the new “terminus” date for the restrictions.
However, despite advance calls from various sectors for extra support, Johnson did not mention any changes to the current schemes, some of which will begin to taper off next month.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan was quick to call for more support, saying: “Many of our businesses are already struggling for survival, and the announcement today will add to their worry and anxiety.
“The planned reduction in financial support at the end of June could now have dire consequences for jobs and livelihoods, pushing more businesses in sectors such as culture, nightlife and hospitality to the brink of collapse.
“The government must now act urgently to extend economic support to all businesses who need it – including extending the full business rates holiday, the evictions moratorium and the existing furlough scheme until all restrictions are lifted.”
The Central London Alliance, a trade body, said that the capital had been hit hardest by the restrictions – and would continue to suffer without more help.
Echoing Khan’s calls for specific aid, it said that a one-month delay to restrictions lifting will cost the hospitality sector around £3bn in sales and place around 300,000 jobs at risk.
“We must not underestimate the critical need for support now and must recognise the
importance to rescue the economy”, it said in a statement.
“The Government must assist central London businesses to get back on their feet and continue to make a positive contribution to the UK economy – only possible if businesses are given permission to trade fully alongside appropriate support.”
John Dickie, chief executive of London First, warned that without further help “too many of the places we know and love won’t be around when we finally do unlock.”
“This disappointing delay in unlocking must be accompanied by further measures to support our leisure and hospitality businesses. Many simply can’t trade profitably given the restrictions and will be hit hard by their extension.
“The Government must delay plans to make businesses contribute to the furlough scheme and extend business rates relief.”