Top business representatives from across the Liverpool City Region have issued an urgent plea to the Government for more funding – with many firms becoming “vulnerable and increasing desperate” as the second lockdown continues.
Signed by 13 top Liverpool business leaders including Bill Addy and Paul Cherpeau, chief executives of Liverpool BID Company and the Chamber of Commerce respectively, and Chris Manka, North West region chairman of the federation of small businesses, the letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak details the grim plight of some of the city’s firms.
It comes ahead of Mr Sunak’s 2020 Spending Review set to take place next week – with the business leaders issuing five key demands including a second wave of SME grants, a rent support scheme and an urgent review of business rates relief.
While the leaders said they welcomed support funding pledged so far, they said “it is clear that more is needed to protect firms and sole traders widely acknowledged as the lifeblood of our economy”, with the second lockdown “hitting the region’s businesses hard”.
The letter said “more substantial business support” is needed now – and post-lockdown, in order to stimulate entrepreneurship, innovation and economic growth.
Suppliers to the decimated hospitality sector were a key area of concern highlighted in the letter, which said: “These businesses owners are vulnerable and increasingly desperate. They urgently need a support package.
“Confidence levels are plunging, exacerbated by uncertainty around looming EU transition, new trading relationships and potential problems with future imports and their supply chain. Businesses are being very cautious and are not confident about future turnover or profitability. They are also a lot shorter on cash or more indebted.”
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The five demands are:
- Provide immediate assistance to SME owner/directors, to the parity of the self-employment scheme, who have received no direct support to date, many of which have had their cases raised by the Liverpool City Region Business Group and its constituent organisations, among others. It is not acceptable to leave these businesses behind in this national crisis.
- Introduce a second wave of SME grants of £10k and £25k – with businesses already struggling as a result of the first national lockdown, the second could have dire consequences for their future. The need for this support is greater than before.
- Help businesses struggling with overheads, such as rent bills and utilities costs – working with bigger landlords and, for example, introducing a rent support scheme.
- Urgently review business rates relief. It is not right that huge supermarket chains have benefited when they have had record sales and long period of a captive market.
- Ease Employers’ National Insurance bills, looking at measures such as a holiday of at least six months to stimulate growth, increasing the Employment Allowance threshold so more businesses can benefit or a straight cut to NI.
The letter agreed with Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s recent assertion that more support is needed to support people starting new businesses during the pandemic, adding: “We now need measures that will spur growth, start-ups and future job creation as our economy faces up to long-term challenges. As business and entrepreneurs in the North we have been challenged to ‘level-up’ the economy, but we need adequate support to be able to do this.
“In fact,the imposition of a new national lockdown and related nationwide support leaves Liverpool City Region businesses worse off than they would have been under tier 3, leaving a ‘high risk’ region with the same support as many tier 1 areas, where clearly the need is greater here.”
It added: “It is essential that the Government now takes the lead in providing clear, concise information and guidance on how the support announced so far will work – for both our businesses in Liverpool City Region and hard-pressed local authorities tasked with putting in place mechanisms to distribute the funding – and in explaining what the restrictions mean for businesses and customers, including what they can do.”
Signatories of the letter were:
Bill Addy, Chief Executive, Liverpool BID Company
Paul Cherpeau, Chief Executive, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce
Chris Manka, North West Regional Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses
Lesley Martin-Wright, Chief Executive, Knowsley Chamber of Commerce
Tracy Mawson, Chief Executive, St Helens Chamber of Commerce
Phil McCabe, Development Manager, Federation of Small Businesses Merseyside and Cheshire
Frank Mckenna, Chief Executive, Downtown Liverpool in Business
Gary Millar, Liverpool City Council Deputy Mayor / Owner, The Fashion Hub
Helen Millne, Deputy Chief Executive, The Women’s Organisation / Liverpool City Region Enterprise Hub
Maggie O’Carroll, Chief Executive, The Women’s Organisation / Liverpool City Region Enterprise Hub
Andrew Ruffler, Chief Executive, Professional Liverpool
David Wafer, Chair, IoD Liverpool
Michael Sandys Area Leader, Federation of Small Businesses Merseyside and Cheshire
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