GO! Southampton – the city’s Business Improvement District (BID) – has pledged its support to #RaiseTheBar, a campaign to extend the government’s COVID-19 grant funding to another 54,368 businesses across England and Wales.
The campaign states that the current scheme, which sees 54,638 businesses across England and Wales unable to access the £25,000 grant, is too low to provide adequate support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The initiative, started by the Croydon BID, also argues that the grant should include any business with a rateable value up to and including £150,000.
Giles Semper, Executive Director of GO! Southampton said: “The current cut-off point for grant funding is arbitrary and based on an outdated approach to assessing business size. It has left many businesses desperate for a cash injection and facing possible collapse. #RaiseTheBar would increase the upper threshold for the grant scheme and assist no fewer than 157 of our member businesses in the city centre – some 25% of our total membership.
“There is a fine line between a city centre that survives and one that stops being viable, taking many hundreds of jobs with it. While we think the government responded quickly and effectively to business needs, it now needs to adjust its funding schemes to prevent widescale business failure. Accessing loans can be a challenging and often futile process, meaning that a small amount of grant support can go a very long way.”
The #RaiseTheBar petition has already seen over 10,000 signatures. GO! Southampton has co-signed a letter to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rt Hon. Alok Sharma. The campaign has been backed by a number of industry bodies and members of parliament and will be raised in the House of Commons by Ed Milliband MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Business.
Matthew Sims, Chief Executive of Croydon BID, added: “#RaiseTheBar has calculated that a total of £1.365bn is needed to support all 54,638 businesses in need. And, with High Street businesses facing an eight-week countdown until the due date for quarterly rent (June 24) it is now more crucial than ever for action to happen.
“We are extremely grateful for the support of GO! Southampton and look forward to working alongside them as we continue to spearhead this essential campaign.”
For more information on the #RaiseTheBar campaign visit: https://raisethebarcampaign.com/