In a letter sent Wednesday, 22 April, Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council and Councillor Jasbir Anand, cabinet member for business and communities, called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to extend the package of support for businesses to ensure that small and independent businesses don’t fall through the net.
In particular, the council is asking for the government to:
- Raise the thresholds for the current business grants and rate reliefs for London businesses, where property values and rateable values are higher.
- Expand the provision to include businesses whose income is linked to the Retail, Hospitality, Arts and Cultural, Recreation and Entertainment sectors.
- Increase the thresholds on the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.
- Extend business rates relief to include all workspace providers and ensure savings are passed on to tenants. Allow tenants who do not qualify for Small Business Rate Relief to apply for the £10,000 grant that other micro businesses and SMEs are able to access.
- Improve regulations for commercial landlords to provide stability for commercial rents.
- Extend the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme underwriting from 80% to 100%, capped at £50,000 and create a universal interest rate cap to avoid lenders negotiating loans on commercial terms.
- Amend the Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) Regulations 2004 to allow levy rate reductions during 2020/21 with the Government to subsidise lost levy revenue and/or create a grant scheme for financially impacted BIDS to continue to operate.
Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, said: “By the end of this week we will have delivered the £68.2m in financial aid that was awarded to our borough by the government. We have also gone a step further by introducing measures to allow some non-qualifying businesses to defer their business rate payments.
“Sadly, we know that this is not enough to mitigate the huge disruption caused to our businesses. The situation is particularly dire for those businesses who are unable to access any of the support that has been made available and there is very real threat of businesses and livelihoods being irreversibly damaged or lost as a result.”
In Ealing, almost 6,500 business ratepayers will not be able to access the government support. There are also 1,800 self-employed limited company businesses and 440 businesses in the creative, arts and cultural sectors who cannot receive any benefit.
“As local employers, these businesses are part of Ealing’s social and economic fabric,” says Councillor Bell. “They also bring innovation and diversity to the UK’s economic growth and productivity. We must act now if we are to ensure their survival.”
These additional measures have been identified as a result of the initial findings from the council’s COVID-19 Business Survey, which has already received more than 900 responses from local businesses.
“We speak with hundreds of businesses on a weekly basis,” says Councillor Jasbir Anand, cabinet member for business and community service. “I know that the measures that we have set out would make a huge difference to Ealing’s local economy, ensuring our most precious businesses can survive and are ready to pick up when the country shifts to recovering the economy.”