Southampton-born Chancellor Rishi Sunak is being asked to save the city where he grew up in an open letter from the city’s Business Improvement District (BID), GO! Southampton.
In the letter, GO! Southampton’s Chair, Tim Keeping, states 82.5% of its 600 member businesses are temporarily closed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The leisure and hospitality sector in particular has been one of the hardest hit during the pandemic, thanks to prolonged closures and patchy grant support.
In its letter to the Chancellor, GO! Southampton has outlined 8 requests to help business recovery in the city centre, calling for Mr Sunak to save Southampton as part of it “SOS: Save our Southampton” campaign. Requests include a continuation of business rate and VAT relief, extension of the furlough scheme and access to further grant programmes. These requests come directly from the BID listening to businesses in the city centre and providing a collective voice to government from its members.
GO! Southampton Chair, Tim Keeping said: “Our members are facing a real struggle, but none more so than the retail, leisure & hospitality sectors – particularly those with rateable values over £51,000. Many had already seen massive increases in their business rates following the 2017 revaluation, including an average 31% for night-time economy operators. We particularly want to see business rates relief extended for a further financial year – or even better see the old, outdated business rates system torn up completely.”
Giles Semper, Executive Director at GO! Southampton said: “Government support has helped hugely during this incredibly difficult time. So we are appealing to the Chancellor – whom the city can claim as ‘one of its own’ – to let us know what more he can do. The measures we have suggested come straight from our members and will give them the best possible chance of surviving and eventually flourishing again. I can’t wait for the day when we invite the Chancellor down to see how his home city as bounced back.”