It's vital that the Government supports businesses and organisations in our community who will be affected by the pandemic, including guidance about social gatherings and the need to self-isolate.
Many local jobs and livelihoods are dependent on our local economy as well as the national economy, and I have taken every opportunity to press Ministers on the need for urgent action.
I continue to urge ministers to broaden the eligibility for support of a number of its schemes, in particular, the exclusion from the Self Employed Income Support Scheme of small business owners who take their income as dividends. I’ve also raised the exclusion of SMEs from grants if they have a rateable value above £51,000, tabling an Early Day Motion on this. I'm pleased the Goverment has listened and taken steps to increase eligibility for grants.
I have tabled another Early Day Motion calling for VAT on tourism to be cut to 5% to reduce prices, encourage visitors and allow business to increase investment in this area, and I raised this directly with the Chancellor in Parliament on May 12th.
I've raised the payment of grants with Brighton & Hove City Council, who seem to be taking much more time than other local authorities to pay out business support grants.
I have repeatedly raised my concerns about the inadequate supply of PPE to care homes, and the failure of the Government-appointed contractor, Clipper Logistics, to deliver supplies (as reported in the Argus https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18438798.coronavirus-councils-left-plug-ppe-gaps/)
In addition, I have:
- Reached out proactively to the arts and tourism sectors, who are particularly badly affected by plummeting visitor numbers, and brought their concerns directly to the attention of Ministers.
- Demanded that Ministers accelerate the process of ensuring businesses remain solvent during the crisis period.
- Called ahead of the Budget on March 11th for a business rates moratorium and then for further freezes on business costs as the situation escalated further.
- Raised the need for a ban on the cut-off of electricity, gas and water supplies to residential properties and small businesses during the crisis.
- Called for action to prevent profiteering from the crisis and strict penalties.
I have also joined calls for the Brexit transition period to be extended as I don’t think local businesses and our economy need more uncertainty. (see https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/56758/covid19-pandemic-and-eu-negotiations)