Boroughs warn of coronavirus threat to ‘cherished London businesses’ unless government boosts support

  • By JackGraves

London boroughs have highlighted the threat to the survival of long-established and much-loved businesses across the capital unless the government widens the scope of its support.

London Councils, the cross-party umbrella group representing the 32 boroughs and the City of London Corporation, has called for an increase to the rateable value threshold to at least £100,000 for London businesses accessing the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG).

While boroughs have delivered an additional £215m in support to London’s small businesses in the past week, London Councils is concerned that the threshold set by the government means other businesses aren’t receiving the support they need to endure the economic impact of Covid-19.   

Many small businesses are excluded from eligibility because of the rateable value of their premises. This is particularly significant in London due to high property values. The current £51,000 limit excludes 24% of businesses in London in comparison to 9% of those outside the capital. 

London Councils says raising the rateable threshold to £100,000 for the RHLG would protect a further 9,370 businesses raising it to £150,000 would provide much-needed financial support to over 13,800 businesses.

Examples of businesses under threat include:

  • The Royal Vauxhall Tavern in Vauxhall, one of London’s oldest LGBTQ venues, with a history of supporting national, local and international artists. 
  • Wood Street Cafe in Walthamstow, which started as a pop-up stall at Wood Street Market and now sells ethically sourced coffee from a much-loved cafe.

Cllr Clare Coghill, London Councils’ Executive Member for Business, Europe, and Good Growth, said:

“Boroughs are doing everything we can to support our local businesses and ensure they receive the grants they’re entitled to.

“Over the last week boroughs have delivered an additional £215m to small businesses across London. Since the start of the month boroughs have provided £1.1bn of grant funding to businesses as part of the government’s Covid-19 support package.

“We welcome the huge amount the government has done to date to support businesses and the self-employed but a significant number of London’s well-known and much-loved small businesses are currently ineligible for grants because of the criteria set by the government, which is why we’re calling for an urgent increase to the rateable value threshold.

“Keeping the London economy viable through this challenging period is essential not only for the well-being of Londoners, but also to maintain London’s role as the major net contributor to the UK’s public finances.”