Southampton Business Improvement District, Go! Southampton released an official petition stating that 82% of its 600 businesses are temporarily closed due to the national lockdown.
The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, who was born in Southampton General Hospital, and grew up in Portswood and Bassett before boarding at Winchester College, endorsed extending breaks on furlough, low VAT, and zero business rates.
The news comes at a difficult time considering that Go! Southampton is one of the main supporters of the Daily Echo’s Love Local Business campaign to support Hampshire’s traders, a community that has struggled during this pandemic.
Tim Keeping, the chairman of Go! Southampton, wrote a public letter to Mr. Sunak, as part of the body’s SOS: Save Our Southampton campaign, commenting,
“Our members are facing a real struggle, but none more so than the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors – particularly those with rateable values over £51,000.”
“Many had already seen massive increases in their business rates following the 2017 revaluation, including an average 31 per cent for night-time economy operators. We particularly want to see business rates relief extended for a further financial year – or even better see the old, outdated business rates system torn up completely.”
The executive director at Go! Southampton, Giles Semper said,
“Government support has helped hugely during this incredibly difficult time. So we are appealing to the chancellor – whom the city can claim as ‘one of its own’ – to let us know what more he can do.”
“The measures we have suggested come straight from our members and will give them the best possible chance of surviving and eventually flourishing again. I can’t wait for the day when we invite the chancellor down to see how his home city as bounced back.”
A Treasury spokesperson claimed in a statement,
“We’ve invested more than £280billion throughout the pandemic to protect millions of jobs and businesses – and extended our self-employed and furlough schemes through to April so that people have certainty that help is in place.
“At the upcoming Budget we’ll outline the next stages of our plan for Jobs to support businesses and families across the UK. That has been our priority throughout the past year and it will be the priority for the year to come.”
The Budget is due to be published on March 3.