During the pandemic when so many are already struggling to get by, unemployment has and will continue to have a devastating impact.
This government's failure to get a grip on the virus has seen tens of thousands of livelihoods lost, and these extra job losses means thousands more families wondering how they're going to put food on the table.
With the retail sector employing approximately 2.8 million people across the UK, our high streets now need urgent action to safeguard their future.
Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to immediately:
- Extend the business rates holiday for hospitality, retail & leisure businesses until at least June 2021
- Upon being reintroduced, provide 50% business rates relief for a year, to avoid a cliff-edge for these sectors
- Commit to a wholesale re-think of the business rates system, based on land value
- Bring down barriers to entry into the retail market for new businesses
- Reverse their decision to end tax-free shopping for overseas tourists on January 1st by retaining VAT Retail Export Scheme.
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, Liberal Democrats warned that the systems around the high street were not fit for purpose.
The UK must not just reverse this pattern, but act to create new retail jobs and businesses. We must reduce barriers to entry for new retailers through innovative solutions, such as flexible leases and turnover-based rents. We must champion retail entrepreneurship, not least to help counter the oncoming rise in unemployment.
Each of these measures can provide much needed relief to UK retail and help create new jobs that are now more necessary than ever.
Local councils run by the Liberal Democrats are doing everything in their power to support local businesses and here in Watford we have launched initiatives to do exactly that. By partnering with organisations like Wenta and WhatsApp we are helping businesses to innovate and adapt to new challenges, as well as providing grants to offer financial support. We have also been championing people to shop and spend local by promoting and profiling different shopping and leisure areas in the town.
The government must act now to help save livelihoods and protect jobs.
If you agree, sign our petition to lobby the government to Save Britain's High Streets.