Cheltenham businesses lobby Government to save UK high streets
Pressure is mounting on the Government to help the UK high streets with campaigners declaring they are just eight weeks from collapse.
Cheltenham BID, which represents businesses in the centre of the spa town, has backed the #RaiseTheBar campaign, which says the next quarterly rent instalment, due in eight weeks, could devastate high street businesses.
It quotes figures stating 54,638 businesses - from pubs to shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, galleries and gyms - are currently unable to access the £25,000 RHLG grant due to their rates valuation falling between £51,000 – £150,000.
In the Cheltenham BID zone alone, there are 149 businesses missing out on the grants because of their rateable value being above £51,000.
Kevan Blackadder, director of Cheltenham BID, said: “We have businesses as diverse as independent jewellers, theatres, cafes, pubs and restaurants and fashion retailers in Cheltenham in desperate need of this money. Action is needed from the Government now.”
Campaigners, which include industry bodies, associations and business owners across the UK, say plans for a £617m discretionary fund announced by Government on May 2 do not go far enough according and there is no guarantees local authorities will issue relief.
The Government has made clear the fund is for specific purposes, none of which support businesses with a rateable value between £51,000 to £150,000.
Claire Alexander, owner The Ebrington Arms in Chipping Campden and The Killingworth Castle in Woodstock, said: “We were utterly floored when the announcement to save hospitality turned out to mean next to nothing for us because we pay too much in business rates.
“Nine thousand pubs like ours are currently left out and the face of the British pub will change forever if it not extended.
“We are the main employer in our villages, responsible for the wages of 47 families but we stand to lose everything as we have been abandoned by the grant scheme and its arbitrary cut off point as our business rates are £75,000 and £72,000.
“The Government has effectively said my business, my staff and the best pubs in the UK aren’t worth saving.”
The #RaiseTheBar campaign estimates a maximum of £1.365bn in Government support is needed to enable the RHLG grant to support all 54,638 businesses falling within a business rates threshold of £51,000 to £150,000.
The campaign believes access to the £25,000 is the difference between survival and bankruptcy for some businesses on high streets across England and Wales, which have welcomed an outpouring of support from the public during lockdown choosing to support their local communities.
The grant will enable businesses to mitigate significant stock losses and cashflow challenges, including rent, that wage subsidies do not address.
Many businesses are not in a position to take on further debt or have serious misgivings about being able to survive the recovery and service loans. Other cash pressures include suppliers, service charges and the cost of re-opening to repurchase stock and ongoing running costs.
Raise the bar partners include The Bid Foundation, British Beer Pub Association, Greater London Authority, Music Venue Trust, the Association of Town and City Management, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, UK Hospitality, the Night Time Industries Association and UK Hospitality.