// London Mayor Sadiq Khan says the government is in “listening mode” over the business rates holiday extension
// He first made the plea on Friday morning
// He has joined with local councils in London call for an extension to the 2021/22 financial year
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said the UK Government is in “listening mode” after he made a plea for them to extend the business rates holiday for another year.
After the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK, business rates for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England were halted for the current 2020/21 financial year.
In a joint submission to the government’s business rates review, Khan has joined with local councils in the capital to call for an extension to the 2021/22 financial year.
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It comes following fears thousands of jobs could be lost in London and across the country.
Speaking to the PA news agency today, Khan said: “The indication from the Government is they are in listening mode.
“They’ve seen what countries across Europe have done because we have told them.”
He urged the UK Government to follow countries such as Germany, France and Spain in giving further support to businesses.
“We’ve made our observations quite clear on a cross party basis that these businesses need support,” Khan said.
“And actually, if the government is serious about giving a helping hand to business, the best way to do it, is to support them during this difficult time.”
Raising concerns that thousands of jobs could be lost, the London mayor’s office said on Friday morning that an extension on the business rates holiday would provide support to businesses who have suffered a drop in footfall due to the coronavirus crisis.
“Businesses across London continue to struggle from the impact of Covid-19,” Khan said at the time.
“If the business rates holiday comes to an end, I worry any employers will have no choice but to make more people unemployed.
“Many large retail, leisure and hospitality businesses – accounting for thousands of Londoners’ jobs – are taking important decisions for the next financial year right now, so certainty over the business rates holiday is needed urgently.”
He also called for an extension to the business rates holiday for childcare providers, which he said are “crucial” in allowing Londoners to return to work.
The New West End Company, which represents 600 businesses in London’s shopping district, said reintroducing business rates in April 2021 would be the “final blow” for those already struggling.
“The result will be more business closures and potentially 50,000 job losses, severely diminishing London’s appeal to visitors, investors and global talent,” chief executive Jace Tyrrell said.
“We appreciate the support that the government has given to businesses so far but it is clear that the impact of Covid-19 is going to last much longer than originally anticipated.”
“We appreciate the support that the Government has given to businesses so far but it is clear that the impact of Covid-19 is going to last much longer than originally anticipated.”
Khan and London Councils, which represents the capital’s 32 borough councils and the City of London, are also urging ministers to make a series of reforms to the business rates system as a whole.
These include devolving the power to set business rates and making the system simpler for all businesses to understand.
Councillor Clare Coghill, London Councils’ executive member for Business, Europe and Good Growth, said: “Despite Government’s welcome initiatives, many businesses remain fragile, still reeling from the long-term impacts of Covid-19. There is still a need for targeted emergency support.
“Ending the business rates holiday too soon will destabilise too many companies, leading to closures, job losses and a shrinking economy both in London and across the rest of the country.”
with PA Wires