We’re supporting the #BusinessSOS campaign

An urgent campaign has been launched by business groups to save thousands of businesses from collapse in the wake of rising energy prices and soaring inflation.

Backed by the Plymouth City Centre Company and Plymouth Waterfront Partnership, the campaign warns of the potential irreversible damage to the high street without urgent and concerted action.

The new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, has announced an energy price cap for businesses but only for six months and, so far, has offered no other support.

Steve Hughes, chief executive of the Plymouth City Centre Company, said: “We were expecting a big announcement to help our businesses and whilst a price cap on energy bills is welcome, this is nowhere near enough to save thousands of businesses from collapse.

“This campaign will work with businesses at the sharp end of this economic crisis to lobby the government to make the right decisions over the next few months to ensure our businesses survive.

“By joining in with other Business Improvement Districts across the UK, we hope our collective voice will persuade the government to take more action urgently to save our high streets.”

The #BusinessSOS campaign, founded by organisations representing more than 150,000 retail, leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses warns harm caused by the spiralling energy crisis is superseding the pandemic with the potential to cause irreversible damage to UK high streets and the economy.

The #BusinessSOS has a three-point-plan:

Reduce VAT

• Headline rate should be reduced from 20% to 12.5%
• Business energy bills reduced from 20% to 5% to match domestic billing

Business Rates Relief

• 100% rate relief until 31st March 2023

Energy Rate Relief

• A discounted kwh price on all business energy bills

By joining with BIDs and business representatives in the UK from across all sectors, we have a collective voice that urges our new government to act now. Reductions in VAT, business rates and energy rate relief are the most significant interventions the government can provide that will dramatically change the outlook for local businesses and help them weather the storm we face in the coming months.”

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality, said, “The hospitality sector is crucial to delivering the business-led growth the new Government is striving for, but we are facing an existential crisis due to soaring energy bills. We’re encouraged by the new Prime Minister’s commitment to tackling energy prices, but we need to see urgent, comprehensive action. As well as a price freeze, we need to see a cut to VAT and a business rates holiday if businesses in the sector are to have any hope of making it through the winter.”

Bill Addy CEO of Liverpool BID and Chair of The BID Foundation said, “Businesses recognise that they benefited from the immediate support given them during the pandemic but we are in danger of all that support being thrown away as those same businesses that have worked valiantly to recover will be decimated by the cost of living crisis. Business is now at a watershed moment that needs an urgent response from our new Prime Minister, they need hope and certainty if they are to survive. It is business that will ensure that UK can grow the economy out of the coming recession but do that business needs to survive and that requires urgent action.”

Ojay McDonald, CEO of Association of Town and City Management said, “Right now, businesses are already deciding to scale back or shut up shop for good. The knock-on impact on employment is unimaginably bad. We need decisive action from the government now to save the high street.

Let’s not shy away from how comprehensive this support needs to be. Energy prices have been unsustainable for months. We are at the stage where a price freeze is inadequate. Discounts on the cost of energy are vital. We also need to halt the decline of consumer confidence to keep businesses trading. That’s why this three-point plan on energy, VAT and businesses rates as a combination is the right route to take.”

Michael Kill, CEO of Night Time Industries Association said, “Over the last week we have seen a huge escalation in closure notices from pubs, bars, restaurants, venues and clubs across the country, with over 70% of businesses stating they will be financially compromised within weeks, all of which have stated untenable operating costs as reasons too close.”

“The industry’s future is finely balanced between the delivery of an imminent survival package by the new Chancellor and continued consumer spend and confidence!”

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “The pub and brewing sector makes a huge contribution to our economy in high streets and local communities throughout the country, yet it still remains in a precarious position after the pandemic. Immediate action on energy is critical, but investment in our sector for the long-term is also essential. As the PM works towards a fiscal statement and full budget we hope she will seriously consider a cut to business rates and VAT so Britain’s pubs and brewers can get back on their feet fully and thrive in the communities they proudly serve.”

Joss Croft, CEO, UKinbound said, “For the UK’s inbound visitor economy, a £28.4 billion export industry, to continue its recovery and exceed pre-pandemic levels, a fully functioning domestic leisure, retail and hospitality industry is absolutely paramount, however the current inflation and energy crisis is set to derail this. We need swift and decisive action from Government to safeguard businesses and jobs across the country.”

YOUR VIEWS:

Please let us know your views and any ideas you may have. What do you need to help you through the coming months. Email steve.hughes@citycentrebid.co.uk