Help businesses who can’t access coronavirus support, Chancellor told

Businesses in Hackney are at risk because they cannot access existing Government support during the Coronavirus pandemic, with urgent changes needed, the Council has told Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

In a letter, Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville and Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Planning, Culture and Inclusive Economy, described how hundreds of small businesses had contacted the Council for help in the last two weeks.

Many businesses cannot access grants or business rates relief because they are not in the retail, hospitality or leisure sectors, or the rateable value of their premises is too high to get support – even though these values are much higher in London than in the rest of the country.

At present, it is clear that there are significant gaps in support for certain sectors and our experience in Hackney demonstrates that there are certain types of businesses that are struggling and in real trouble due to the fact that they trade and do business with other affected business sectors and industries. 

We would urge the Treasury to make additional provisions for the businesses who are struggling as a direct result of the pandemic but are not currently eligible for Government support.

It is essential that the pressing issues faced by our local business community in Hackney, who are currently unable to access existing Government support are acted on urgently to ensure that more micro businesses, small and medium sized enterprises and the self-employed are supported and able to stay afloat. We welcome your recent pledge to do ‘whatever it takes’ to keep companies and businesses solvent and we would urge you to take these actions urgently. Businesses require this support now.
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney, and Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Planning, Culture and Inclusive Economy

The Council’s Hackney Business Network has proactively engaged with businesses in the borough since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through the use of a business impact monitoring form, direct contact from local businesses and regular liaison with business representation groups. 

The letter explains six key asks of the Government to support Hackney’s businesses:

  • Review/re-evaluate the rateable value thresholds for the Small Businesses Grant Fund (£15,000 currently) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (£51,000 currently) for businesses in London so that small business and those in impacted sectors in London where property values and rateable values are higher have access to grants.

  • Provide a package of support in the form of business rates relief and grants to businesses who are currently not eligible for support via rate relief or grants but who are suffering as their income and turnover is directly related to the Retail, Hospitality, Arts and Cultural, Recreation and Entertainment sectors. 

  • Extend the Self-employment Income Support Scheme for increasing the qualifying thresholds for self employed individuals and including individuals operating in a limited company structure.

  • Extend business rates relief to include all workspace providers and stipulate that workspace providers pass on this saving to their tenants. Allow tenants of workspaces who do not currently qualify for Small Business Rate Relief to apply for the £10,000 grant that other micro businesses and SMEs are able to access.

  • Bring consistency and regulation into the commercial landlord sector to provide certainty to businesses who cannot afford to pay commercial rents during this time. 

  • Extend the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, enabling lenders by raising the 80% underwriting to 100% or turning the initiative into an Equity scheme or as a Government grant scheme for businesses.

For more information, support and regular email updates, join the Council’s Hackney Business Network.