// New West End Company has called for business rates holiday extension
// CEO Jace Tyrrell said this is crucial to stopping hundreds of retailers quitting the West End
The lobby group which represents London‘s West End retail precinct has called for the existing business rates holiday to be extended beyond next April or a reduction of rates by at least half.
The New West End Company (NWEC) said this was crucial to stopping hundreds of retailers quitting the West End in September.
Chief executive Jace Tyrrell said a 50 per cent cut in business rates or an extension of the current holiday period for a further 12 months from April 1 next year can stop retailers quitting the area.
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“We need to sort out business rates. It’s not what happens on April 1, but what is decided in September of this year,” Tyrrell said.
“I know there are hundreds of businesses in the West End that are going to decide whether to stay or leave depending on what happens with business rates.”
In March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak suspended all business rates payments for retailers, hospitality businesses and theatres for the current tax year as the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the UK.
Sunak said the government’s review of business rates would be published ahead of the autumn statement.
Meanwhile, Tyrrell said the government must give some sort of indication as to what it plans to do before the scheduled autumn spending review in November, so that retailers can begin their budgeting costs for next year.
“That decision will be made this autumn because what they will do with their staff and their properties will be based on their operating costs for next year and that will include rates, obviously,” he said.
“These businesses need to know before the autumn budget and spending review in November.
“They need to know by September if they will extend the holiday for another year or cut rates by 50 per cent.
“For us, that is potentially huge, because it’s potentially hundreds of retailers that could close and that could lead to 50,000 job losses.”
NWEC said that 5.1 million people have visited the area since non-essential retail reopened on June 15, down 73 per cent year on year for the same period last year.
Tyrrell said that footfall had recovered 50 per cent since lockdown was implemented in March, but described the growth as “very slow and very fragile”.