Small Business Saturday: a springboard to help hard-hit local businesses survive the pandemic


City & East London Assembly Member Unmesh Desai is encouraging Londoners to use Small Business Saturday this weekend “as a springboard” to helping local shops and restaurants get through the final hurdles of the pandemic.

 His calls come as figures, recently published by Xero Small Business Insights, have revealed that in October, small business revenues in the UK were 12% lower than in October 2019.

The Centre for Cities’ High Streets Recovery Tracker also places London in the bottom ten regions of the UK for footfall and spend in the last week of October.

Mr Desai has welcomed the measures that Government has so far put in place to help small businesses – but is now supporting calls for Ministers to put together a long-term recovery plan for the hard-hit retail and hospitality sectors.

He is proposing that the Government extends the current business rates holiday to beyond April next year and the rent evictions moratorium into the New Year, so a solution can be found to the issue of rising commercial rent arrears.

The London Mayor has launched a £1 million Resilience Fund to help some of the most at-risk businesses in the capital, in the wake of the pandemic and ahead of a no-deal Brexit.

This comes on top of a separate £1 million Back-to-Business Fund, which offers up to £5,000 in match-funding for struggling small and independent firms.

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City Hall’s ‘Pay it Forward’ scheme, launched at the start of lockdown, has also raised thousands for businesses and projects in London forced to temporarily close or pause their operations, as a result of the pandemic.

Mr Desai AM said: “This has been an incredibly tough year for small businesses, with thousands of livelihoods being lost in the capital, and our high streets being placed at significant risk.

“Many independent firms are doing their very best to adapt to this unprecedented situation by setting up an online presence, but planning ahead is difficult for business owners in the current circumstances.

“As Londoners, for those who can, we can play our part in helping local shops, hairdressers and restaurants, using Small Business Saturday as a springboard to supporting them throughout the Christmas period and beyond.

“With the vaccine rollout providing a chink of light at the end of a very dark tunnel, we must not let our town centres collapse as we hopefully come to the final hurdle.”

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