The national campaign #RaiseTheBar has made significant progress over the past week as we underlined to Government that there are just eight weeks left to save the nation’s high streets before Armageddon on Monday 4 May, achieving widespread media coverage including The Times, London Evening Standard, Big Hospitality and The Drinks Businesses.
These are strong words but in today’s current environment, even with the anticipated relaxation of the lockdown, businesses in these sectors have eight weeks until the next rent quarter is due leaving them in the unenviable position as to what to do next. In raising the threshold to £150,000, 54,638 businesses across England and Wales will be offered a £25,000 lifeline whereby they have a fighting chance to survive.
Its maximum cost has been calculated by specialist consultants Gerald Eve at £1.365 billion.
We must reflect on the size of these industries. Collectively, the retail, hospitality and leisure sector is worth over £635 billion to the UK’s economy every year, employing millions of people. What’s more, other sectors and trades are reliant upon its success so if one goes down, the others fold with them like a pack of cards. They are all inter-related. The likes of Deliveroo and Just Eat have thrived off the success of these very businesses, allowing expansion and adaption even in times such as these. That said, if the bricks and mortar businesses of these sectors are not supported, the supply chain will be severely hampered placing even greater pressure on businesses connected to these sectors. The threat to the economy is substantial and therefore support is needed before it is too late.
So what progress have we made since the last update?
Most significantly, the #RaiseTheBar campaign has received cross party support in the political sphere of Westminster. On 1 May 2020, Rt. Hon. Anthony Mangnall MP issued a letter signed by 85 other Conservative MPs to Rt. Hon Rishi Sunak MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer requesting that the Government consider raising the threshold from £51,000 to £150.000. This is an important step for the campaign demonstrating that a large proportion of the Government’s own party is in agreement that the £51,000 business rates threshold needs increasing.
The campaign team issued a letter to Rt. Hon. Dominic Raab, First Secretary of State with confirmation that he was discussing this particular matter with the Treasury.
Our discussions cross the aisle of the House of Commons to Labour and the Shadow front bench. We have received positive support from the Shadow business team led by Rt. Hon. Ed Milliband MP, Shadow Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. On Monday 4 May 2020, he raised the very basis of the campaigns ask of Government to Rt. Hon Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy stating the importance of supporting these industries which are in dire need of assistance.
In the past week alone, the campaign has featured in national press including The Times, The Evening Standard, Daily Telegraph and the Daily Star alongside widespread regional and trade press articles supported by industry leaders and business improvement districts across the country.
Working with UK Hospitality, Beer and Pub Association, Night Time Industry Association, Greater London Authority, ATCM, London Chamber of Commerce and many more, we have mobilised networks across the country and have more to do as we begin to utilise the membership voices further.
What has been staggering is the way in which business improvement districts have mobilised across the country to support this campaign. With close to 200 business improvement districts backing the campaign, the message is unified, joined up and reaching not only local media but local politicians as our industry colleagues press home the need to support their members.
Our supporter base continues to go from strength to strength as our online petition https://bit.ly/2xJ61fB exceeds over 10,000 signatures. Theoretically, the petition has now reached a point whereby the Government will need to respond formally. We will be pressing this matter further as we discuss with politicians from across the divide the need for action.
Our communications agency Kallaway have been instrumental in the success #RaiseTheBar has achieved to date, finessing a campaign in to a well-oiled machine that has the opportunity to take it to the next stage and potentially make an immeasurable difference to the lives of those running businesses in these sectors. Discussions continue with national and regional media alongside broadcast media to continue our campaign to make a difference.
We have achieved a great deal in the three weeks since we issued our letter to Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. We strive for more and wish to thank you, our partners and supporters for shining a light on such an important issue which needs addressing.
We have eight weeks – there is still much more to be done but we are moving ever closer.