'Stark and sobering’ survey reveals extent of crisis facing Leamington town centre businesses - The Leamington Observer

'Stark and sobering’ survey reveals extent of crisis facing Leamington town centre businesses

Leamington Editorial 30th Apr, 2020   0

BID Leamington is backing industry-wide lobbying for greater support for retail and leisure businesses reflecting ‘stark and sobering’ results of a town centre survey.

It is echoing nationwide calls for help with rental payments, raising the rateable value grant threshold, and phased removal of wage subsidies, while continuing to work with Warwick District Council to ensure all eligible businesses can access government aid.

The survey of mostly independent retail and leisure businesses was conducted by BID Leamington during the first week of April.

At that time, nine out of ten of those that responded were temporarily closed and most had furloughed staff.

Some 85 per cent had seen a fall in revenue of between 80 and 100 per cent, with 95 per cent reporting a drop of more than half – and critically, taking account of existing support and grants available, 84 per cent were experiencing cashflow problems.

Under the current lockdown conditions, 78 per cent felt they could last no longer than three months without further support.

Stephanie Kerr, executive director of BID Leamington, said: “The results are stark and sobering but not surprising as they reflect our ongoing engagement with businesses in the town centre to support them through this unprecedented time.

“Critical concerns for businesses relate to cashflow challenges including rent, utilities and loan repayments, and attracting customers back.

“We are really grateful for the work that Warwick District Council has already done to make sure existing businesses that are eligible for government loans can access them.

“However, it is very clear that further government support is needed, especially if emergency measures are extended, as many have limited capacity to take on debt after facing numerous years of existing challenges.

“Immediate needs cited were more support from landlords, VAT reduction rather than deferral, additional financial support, including grants for those that were not eligible, and a phased end to furloughing to avoid future job losses.

“They are doing all they can to adapt to the immense challenges and, where possible, continue trading in some form and it is hugely important that we all continue to support them.”

BID Leamington is lobbying for further help for businesses as it continues to focus of all its resources on supporting the town centre and planning for when restrictions are lifted.

A key part of this is backing a nationwide #RaiseTheBar campaign launched to call on government to expand the rateable value threshold from £51,000 to £150,000 for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses to enable them to access a £25,000 grant.

It is estimated that around 100 businesses in Leamington town centre would benefit from the threshold being extended.

Town centre businesses can visit www.bidleamington.com for information and support.

For information on #RaiseTheBar visit www.raisethebarcampaign.co.uk and to support local businesses still trading visit www.loveleamington.com

BID Leamington executive director Stephanie Kerr – survey results stark and sobering.


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