Council calls on government to better support local businesses

We’re calling on the government to better support our local businesses during the ongoing cost of living crisis.

In a letter to Grant Shapps MP, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Brighton & Hove City Council is strongly urging him to increase the financial help given to small and medium sized businesses – the ‘lifeblood’ of our local economy.

The letter is from Leader of the Council, Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty.

Working closely with the city’s Business Improvement District, Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership, Chamber of Commerce and local Federation of Small Business, the council has agreed to support the #BusinessSOS campaign which has more than 150,000 businesses nationwide. 

It’s calling for the government to: 

  • Suspend Covid loan debt replacements for up to two years (with potential eligibility criteria); 
  • Reduce tourism VAT to 5% (i.e. holiday and hospitality services and packages), and; 
  • Introduce a dedicated Business Grant support for Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) and pubs to help with costs over the winter (with potential eligibility criteria). 

However, fearing this does not go far enough, the council is also asking for further measures:

  • A reduction of VAT on energy for businesses to 5% for a minimum period of 24 months, to boost demand in the sector, and; 
  • Capping energy prices at 2021 levels for SME’s and pubs. 

Devastating blow

Many of the city’s tourism and leisure businesses suffered a devastating blow during the Covid-19 pandemic, with a sharp drop in visitors to the city in 2020, the income they generate and the jobs they create and support.

While the visitor economy recovered in 2021 and early 2022, our SMEs are coming under renewed pressure due to rising inflation, surging food and energy prices and the slow return of visitors from overseas.

Councillor Mac Cafferty said: “Our letter lays out why it’s crucial the government steps in to offer better support to small and medium companies. They need help both now and in the longer term if they’re to survive this current economic climate. 

“Many small firms are already struggling to make ends meet in the face of roaring inflation and the Autumn Statement simply didn’t provide the clarity or extend adequate support for small businesses with their energy bills and as a result they will face even greater hurdles next year. 

“Having just survived the worst ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic, and only with significantly more support, I’m extremely concerned that rising inflation and increases to the cost of energy and food could be one crisis too many for our small and medium sized businesses. 

“Brighton & Hove has a dazzling array of award-winning, cutting edge small & independent businesses which are the lifeblood of our economy. Our tourism, culture, Creative Digital Information Technology and leisure sectors are crucial to Brighton & Hove’s economic success, but without meaningful intervention and support from government, they face a very uncertain future.”

More information about cost of living support in the city.

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