The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
I very much support the Government’s evidence based decision to delay Stage 4 of the coronavirus roadmap until 19 July, with some exceptions. However, there are clear and damaging implications for some sectors of our economy and it cannot be right to simply leave businesses without the necessary financial support to cope with, and in many instance survive, this change.
You will know that pubs, live events, the night time economy, travel, tourism and hospitality continue to be badly affected and unable to operate at anything approaching normal. This new change to the roadmap puts them under even further pressure and warrants, as I have long argued, dedicated sector specific support that goes beyond the current timeframe for ending or phasing out support.
No doubt you will have read reports from the ONS that 1 in 5 pubs faces closure between now and August and that the industry has debts worth around £6billion due to the pandemic. A survey by the Night Time Industries Association found that 1 in 4 night-time economy firms, such as nightclubs and bars, don’t expect to survive the extra four weeks. UKHospitality, which represents pubs, bars and restaurants, said businesses faced losing £3bn in sales because of the delay to lifting restrictions by a month.
Theatres and small, grassroots live music venues, which are especially well represented in my constituency and many of which have received little or no Cultural Recovery Fund, will also be exceptionally badly hit, as will festivals and live events, and the businesses in the supply chains that enable them to take place.
I therefore urge you, on behalf on the very many businesses and self-employed people in my constituency and further afield, to do the following:
• Retain existing furlough and self-employed income support for businesses still not able to operate as normal, without tapering, for a minimum of six-months, with future reviews.
• Extend full business rates relief for a minimum of six-months and removing the removing the rateable value limit
• Create of new sector-specific ‘recovery grants’ regime for business still not able to operate as normal – and expand eligibility to include those who have been excluded to date, such as the English Language Teaching sector.
• Further extend the hospitality and tourism VAT cut at 5% until next year.
• Establish a Government-backed Covid-19 cancellation insurance scheme so the events sector can invest and plan.
• Extend the ban on commercial evictions and introduce a temporary moratorium on landlords’ right to collect commercial rent, alongside securing an official arbitration process, lasting at least a further six months, to enable commercial landlords and tenants to negotiate management of rent arrears, with a requirement that landlords forfeit 50% of rent debt.
• Fix the SEISS so those groups excluded to date can access support equivalent to that provided through the CJRS.
• Consider writing off Covid loans for businesses worst affected.
I am well aware of the extent to which the Treasury has already provided financial support to businesses during the pandemic but I am writing to tell you that it simply isn’t enough - more needs to be done as a matter of urgency and to ensure our economy is able to recover sustainably going forward. I am also worried by the impact of this announcement on the employed in the sectors most significantly affected and trust you will be looking again at the situation for renters in particular, so nobody is made homeless or burdened with unmanageable debt because of the pandemic.
With thanks for your time and attention.