// Labour calls on government to support businesses forced to close under Tier 4 measures
// Ed Miliband says “Ministers must urgently boost support for closed businesses through a Hospitality and High Street Fund to save businesses and jobs now”
// Labour suggests government redeploys £2bn returned to them from supermarkets over business rates relief
On Tuesday night Labour issued a call for the government to “stand up for businesses and ensure those hit by unexpected Tier 4 restrictions” with the proposal of a Hospitality and High Street Fightback Fund.
In a report on Labour’s website, the party argued that almost 175,000 businesses across Tier 4 areas in London, the South East and the East of England have been affected by last-minute instructions to close, including more than 13,000 hairdressers and beauty salons, more than 8,600 gyms and leisure centres, and more than 45,000 retail businesses including clothes shops, homeware and book shops.
They pointed out that many of those businesses had paid for stock or taken final bookings for the Christmas period.
Labour said it is calling for the £2 billion in funding recently returned to the Treasury by supermarkets from their business rates relief to be redeployed into a Hospitality and High Streets Fightback Fund to help struggling businesses on the high street and those excluded from support.
“Businesses are facing a Christmas nightmare on the high street, forced to close at the last minute by Tier 4 restrictions,” Labour shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said.
“Many shops, leisure and beauty businesses just getting back on their feet have had the rug pulled from under them, joining struggling restaurants and pubs already shut.
“Businesses are doing the right thing and closing to keep people safe, but Ministers are not doing the right thing by them. We need these businesses on the other side of the crisis but the support is hopelessly inadequate, and the Business Secretary seems to be asleep at the wheel.
“The government can’t keep leaving businesses in the lurch like this. Ministers must urgently boost support for closed businesses through a Hospitality and High Street Fund to save businesses and jobs now,” Miliband added.
The government’s announcement that it would place large swathes of the south and east of England under a new Tier 4 lockdown came with little warning for retailers last Saturday.
The restrictions closed non-essential shops, which alongside a new lockdown in Wales, is thought to be costing retailers £4 billion in lost trade this Christmas.