Westside backs #RaiseTheBar campaign to give more businesses access to grants

A national lobbying campaign to enable more retail, hospitality and leisure businesses to get financial help from the government has been backed by Westside BID.

The #RaiseTheBar campaign wants the rateable value thresholds for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses to be raised from £51,000 to £150,000, giving more firms the chance to access £25,000 grants to help survive the COVID-19 lockdown.

The campaign, led by Croydon BID, has also been backed by the BID Foundation, British BIDs, the Association of Town and City Management, UK Hospitality, Beer and Pub Association and the Night Time Industries Association that together represent over 100,000 businesses across the UK.

Westside BID is now calling on its members, other local businesses and the general public across the Midlands to sign up to the campaign via this website: www.raisethebarcampaign.com

The campaign has highlighted how the retail, hospitality and leisure sector is vital to the UK economy with the following figures:

  • The UK hospitality employs over 3.2 million people, equivalent to 11% of UK jobs, making it the third largest sector in the UK, accounting for £130 billion in revenue, 6% of all businesses and 5% GDP.
  • In 2019, the UK leisure sector reached over £111 billion in sales.
  • The retail industry alone generated £394 billion worth of sales in 2019 with 306,655 units across the UK

Mike Olley, general manager of Westside BID, said: “The retail, hospitality and leisure sector is vital to the UK economy and must be protected at all costs.

“Here on Westside, the hospitality and leisure businesses in particular are crucial, with the ‘golden mile’ acting as the lifeblood of the area, bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors a year onto Broad Street and maintaining thousands of jobs.

“We are therefore fully backing Croydon BID’s #RaiseTheBar campaign to persuade the government to act now so that this sector can be protected.

“The rateable value threshold of £51,000 is basically far too low to provide adequate support to these businesses in their time of need. Whether they are independents or multiple operators, we forget those businesses with rateable value of £51,000 or more at our peril.

“We call on all our members, other local businesses, their staff, family, friends and the wider general public that loves Birmingham’s vibrant nightlife, leisure and retail sectors to also back this campaign.”

Matthew Sims, chief executive of Croydon BID said: “We acknowledge that increasing the threshold up to and including £150,000 will increase the burden on central and local government.

“This is a price we believe is worth paying to ensure businesses are given the opportunity to become part of the greater push to mobilise our economy, rather than leaving premises empty, growing unemployment with or without the job retention scheme and sectors contracting across the board.”

Bill Addy, chief executive of Liverpool BID and chair of the BID Foundation said: “We cannot underestimate the importance of our retail, hospitality and leisure sectors and not just to what they bring to our economy but the people that are employed within them.

“That is why the Business Improvement Districts across the UK are supporting the #RaiseTheBar Campaign in asking Government to increase the retail, hospitality and leisure rateable value threshold from £51k to £150k.

“In doing so, more business will have access to a £25k grant supporting their fight to survive and to allow them to play their central role in kick-starting our economy.”

To support the campaign, you can sign up to make a positive change here: www.raisethebarcampaign.com

By Steve Dyson

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