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Support our retail, hospitality & leisure sector – #RaiseTheBar

Written by on April 28, 2020

Northampton town centre Business Improvement District (BID) is calling on central government to do more to help the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors survive COVID-19.

The BID, which represents 650 plus businesses in the town centre, has today pledged its full support for ‘Raise The Bar’, a national campaign which is urging government to expand the rateable value threshold for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses from £51,000 to £150,000. This would enable more businesses to access a £25,000 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG) grant.

Mark Mullen, BID Operations Manager, said: “The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG) threshold of £51,000 is too low. At a time when businesses are doing all they can survive we ask central government to reconsider and amend the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG) to enable more businesses to access the £25,000 grant. In amending the rateable value, we would not only save businesses but we also save jobs.

“The retail, hospitality and leisure sector is vital not just to Northampton but also to the UK economy and must be protected at all costs. These are some of our most adaptable businesses and the economy will need them to survive this crisis so they can play their part in rejuvenating the economy.”

Raise The Bar is a national campaign launched to support the people that work for and run businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors – a sector worth £635billion to our UK economy.

Town centre business director Marc Sawer said: “I’ve already received a grant for The Church Restaurant and a second one is being processed for our King Billy Rock Bar. Frustratingly though, because its rateable value is £135,000, we are not eligible for a grant for NB’s.

“NB’s has particularly high running costs and the rent alone is £11,500 a month. Once we do reopen, and I don’t foresee this happening until September at the earliest, we will need money in the bank – just to restock and pay the utilities. I would urge central government to raise the rateable value threshold. We need support urgently. NB’s is a large town centre venue and essential to the night-time economy.”

In a letter to local MP Andrew Lewer the co-chair of Northampton BID, Andrea Smith, has written: “We implore you and the Government to reconsider the threshold and to make the amendment so that businesses up to and including £150,000 can benefit from a £25,000 grant so that they have the same opportunity to survive and help rebuild our economy.

“We acknowledge that by increasing the RHLG 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 these businesses are supported to become part of the greater push to mobilise our economy, rather than leaving premises empty, growing unemployment and depleted high street and town centre communities.”

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