Ten of the borough’s most senior politicians and business leaders have written to Kwasi Kwarteng MP, urging him to “go much further” to support firms facing bigger fuel bills, on top of the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit.
Although they welcomed “initial measures around energy bill support schemes for households, they insisted that businesses should not be left out. They claimed the Chancellor must levy an energy price cap for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Charitable Organisations, and a discount on Business Rates.
“Our businesses are facing extraordinary challenges due to the unprecedented rise in energy costs, as well as the ongoing recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, further compounded by shocks across the supply chain as a result of Brexit,” their letter stated.
“We call on the Government to go further in support of local economies at this difficult time. Businesses in all sectors are deeply fearful that the cost of trading crisis could force them to close permanently, causing major hardship for owners, workers and customers alike.”
The letter, signed by Lambeth Council Leader Cllr Claire Holland and two of her most senior colleagues, plus the heads of seven of the borough’s Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) also warned of the threat to the cultural sector.
It added: “Lambeth’s cultural venues, only just bouncing back post pandemic, are also gravely at risk – one organisation seeing an increase in energy bills from £7,500 to £19,500 this year.
“As their energy and production costs increase, ticket sales and donations decrease as the cost-of-living crisis hits people’s pockets.
“Businesses in Lambeth and across the country are already suffering from the widest trade deficit since records began, and ONS figures showing that GDP fell by 0.6% in June. This is deeply concerning for businesses who have been relying on a prosperous summer and autumn of trading to recover from the pandemic period.”
The signatories said an energy price cap for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Charitable Organisations, and a discount on Business Rates, “would give businesses some confidence about their cost of trading, allowing them to plan into the future and invest”.
They added: “We call on the Government to work with Local Authorities and the BID industry to enable us to continue providing vital support for our local economies through the cost of trading crisis.”
The letter, copied below, was signed by:
- Cllr Claire Holland, Leader of Lambeth Council
- Cllr Jacqui Dyer, Deputy Leader (Inclusive Economy and Equalities), Lambeth Council
- Cllr David Amos, Cabinet Member (Finance and Cost of Living), Lambeth Council
- Gianluca Rizzo, Managing Director, Brixton BID
- Louise Abbotts, BID Manager, InStreatham
- Nic Durston, Chief Executive South Bank BID & South Bank Employers Group
- Charlotte Ashworth, BID Manager, Station to Station BID
- Jeremy Keates, BID Manager, This is Clapham
- Bernard Collier, Chief Executive, Vauxhall One
- Natalie Raben, Chief Executive, WeAreWaterloo