We hope you are all well. It has been a little while since our October newsletter (please view here) and we know some of you are very busy – while others will be once again digesting government advice relating to increasing Covid cases.
We want to keep this brief – but also reassure you of the support that is available as we go forwards. There is also a lot of behind-the-scenes work and lobbying going on, to ensure you and businesses around the Country are adequately supported as the situation changes.
Accordingly, this email contains the most up-to-date advice we have right now, but it will likely change, so please watch out for our emails and follow the social media and website pages listed at the bottom of the page as we will also post updates there.
This update covers the following:
- Business Booster – Lobbying for Support (Again)
- Grants – Yesterday’s Announcement – Websites to Bookmark
- Christmas Update & New Year Planning
- Looking Forwards, BID Support – Please Stay in Touch …
1. Business Booster Campaign – Lobbying for Support (Again).
Very quickly, we felt that you should know we have been working with other BIDs around England, to lobby for additional business support following the Plan B announcement two weeks ago.
We know that this impacted hospitality particularly, but our ‘asks’ apply to retail, leisure and hospitality sector businesses. The letter that was sent to the Chancellor on the 19th of December can be viewed here (please click here) – and a jpeg image of the ‘asks’ is below for your information.
In summary, this included:
- BUSINESS RATES RELIEF: provide businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with 100% Business Rate Relief for up to and including 31st March 2022 [no cap]. After which we call on the Government to support the recovery by providing businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a 50% Business Rate Relief from 1st April 2022 to 30th June 2022 [no cap].
- VAT EXTENSION: extend the current VAT reduction for the hospitality sector of 12.5% through to 31st March 2023 to allow for recovery.
- GRANTS: introduce grants up to £15,000 by rateable value to businesses within the hospitality, retail and leisure sector in light of a difficult festive trading period, uncertain outlook and the impending rent quarter date of 25th December 2021.
As set out below, while today’s announcement is welcome – as you can see above and below, our industry colleagues feel the government will need to go further so will continue to engage with MPs and decision makers. Please let us know if you would like to support this work (on social media, with case study information etc).
2. Grants – Yesterday’s Announcement – Website to Bookmark
Yesterday’s announcement from the Chancellor of a £1bn fund for the hospitality sector and an extra £30m to help theatres and museums shows that he is listening to business concerns. In summary it includes:
- Grants for hospitality and leisure businesses in England, worth up to £6,000 per premise. These will be administered through local authorities.
- The resumption of the statutory sick pay rebate scheme, which will reimburse employers in the UK with fewer than 250 workers for the cost of paying statutory sick pay for Covid-related absences for up to two weeks.
- £30 million further funding enabling more cultural organisations in England to apply for support during the winter (via the Culture Recovery Fund).
Grants for Leamington hospitality and leisure businesses will once again be administered by Warwick District Council (WDC).
We were in contact with WDC in anticipation last week and again yesterday – to ensure that teams are being mobilised to deploy information and grants as swiftly as possible. We are not yet sure if there will be an application process, but we know it is urgently needed and we will keep businesses updated via this email and our social media pages (at the bottom of this email).
In addition, the WDC website has been updated with a holding statement – so please bookmark these pages:
- Covid Support & Advice for Businesses: https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/info/20827/coronavirus/1553/coronavirus_advice_for_business
- Covid Business Grants: https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/info/20068/business_awards_and_grants
Next Steps & Further Lobbying (For those who feel this falls short and those missed out)
On balance, the response to this has been mixed. It overlooks a number of sectors who have also been hit hard recently including hair and beauty, travel and others who have also seen cancellations. As set out above our asks cover all sectors, so this remains our focus. We are also conscious that the offer of ‘up to’ £6000 for hospitality and leisure will do little to cover recent losses. Below is a statement from Matt Sims who founded the ‘Business Booster’ Campaign:
“This isn’t the bailout businesses across the UK need and have been waiting for since Plan B was announced over two weeks ago. A £1bn package of support sounds impressive, but is a headline that distracts from the true reality that these are token measures and in no way reflect the reality that hospitality businesses are facing.”
“A £6,000 grant in no way compensates for the dramatic loss in trading hospitality businesses in particular are facing, and more important they can’t wait weeks for financial aid.”
“With speculation mounting of further restrictions, we need the Government to ensure any announcement is accompanied with a revised raft of financial support and measures to ensure hospitality, retail and leisure businesses get the support they need to mitigate closure and redundancies.”
So for now please stay in touch. As always we welcome your feedback and ‘on the ground experience’. We know that business circumstances vary widely and are available to help in a variety of areas, including signposting Health & Wellbeing, HR, financial and legal support.
3. Christmas Update & New Year Planning
Taking account of recent uncertainty we wanted to reflect on the last month and signpost some options for the new year. Whilst we know footfall does not tell the whole story, our footfall cameras on Parade show that our recovery has been strong. Since September we have consistently reached 2019 levels – which bodes well for our ability to bounce back whatever comes our way in future. By percentage, our ‘footfall to date’ is above the midlands and national average.
(Click to view footfall graph)
We feel that we have a wonderful, local, connected local community that contributes to this resilience. Love Leamington #LoveLeam and the shop local message is valued and we know many people have enjoyed our Lantern Parade, Christmas Goody Bags (x250 on Small Business Saturday), Santa’s Post Box (over 700 letters to date), Elf Workshop and other partnerships (such as with Atmap) and activities.
4. Looking Forwards, BID Support – Please Stay in Touch
Throughout December we continued to showcase your businesses and products on our websites and social media platforms and this will continue into the New Year. Importantly if your circumstance change please let us know so we can update our websites and let the wider community know. Also, please email us content and ‘tag’ us into your social media posts.
Please also join our Leamington Town Centre Facebook Group if you haven’t already and share your ideas, information, promotions etc. We also post updates on the BID Leamington Facebook Page and information on our website here.
We are optimistic that once we get over this next hurdle, 2022 is going to be fantastic. We are looking forward to the Queens Jubilee, the Commonwealth Games and lots more which we will update you on in due course.
In the meantime, we wish you and your teams a very safe and Merry Christmas and look forward to seeing you in the New Year.
Very best wishes – please take care and stay in touch.
Steph, Alison and Gary