Sadiq Khan has called on Boris Johnson to rescue London’s West End as central London businesses struggle to rebound from the coronavirus crisis.
Khan wrote to the Prime Minister today, after lobby group The New West End Company predicted that there would be a £5bn drop in retail sales for the district this year.
The West End Company said there had been a “slow increase in footfall”, but that many people did not feel confident to return to central London’s high streets.
The London mayor called on Johnson to create a targeted financial scheme for hospitality, retail, leisure and cultural businesses in central London, extend the business rates holiday past March 2021 and to overhaul business rates to “create a fair playing field between physical and online retail”.
He also called for greater support to freelancers and a scheme for small and medium-sized businesses that are struggling to meet their rent bills.
“Until we have an operational vaccine in place social distancing will have to continue to protect people’s health, and with employers planning to continue home-working well into next year, the numbers of people visiting the West End will be reduced for many months ahead,” Khan said.
“In the face of a perfect economic storm, our businesses need urgent and sustained support from Government to ensure they can survive this pandemic.”
The proposals were also backed by the UKHospitality business body.
Its chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “These sectors have been hammered by the crisis and they are going to be key to the economic recovery, not just of London, but the whole UK.
“Lots of businesses in our sector are beginning to reopen, but there are still many who cannot.”