Retail, Hospitality & Leisure: Government, it’s time to #RaiseTheBar


22 Apr

Help us raise the bar - sign the petition

These are unprecedented times for our economy at a local, regional and national level. Industry leaders, political figures and Business Improvement Districts are calling on the Government to help businesses within the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors who have a rateable value of more than £51,000.

Sheffield BID is supporting the launch of a national campaign, #RaiseTheBar, asking Central Government to expand the rateable value threshold for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses from £51,000 to any business with a rateable value up to and including £150,000, allowing more businesses the opportunity to access the £25,000 grant in order to survive.

The retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are vital to the UK economy and must be protected at all costs. The retail industry alone generated £394 billion worth of sales in 2019 with 306,655 units across the UK. In 2019, the UK leisure sector reached over £111 billion in sales. The UK hospitality employs over 3.2 million people, that is 11% of UK jobs, making it the third largest sector in the UK, accounting for £130 billion in revenue, 6% of all businesses and 5% GDP.

In Sheffield city centre, there are many businesses who cannot access the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant because they occupy properties with a rateable value over £51,000. Increasing the threshold to an upper limit of £150,000 will provide £3.9m of vital support for another 157 city centre businesses. (Within the wider city, it is estimated that a further 400 businesses would benefit.)

Whether these businesses are independent or operating from more than one location, we forget those with a rateable value of £51,000 or more at our peril. Feedback from them suggests that they are carrying significant stock losses and are still facing immediate cash flow challenges that wage subsidies will not address. Many are not able to take on further debt or have serious misgivings about being able to survive the recovery and service loans.

Sheffield BID Manager Diane Jarvis, said:

"We appreciate further financial support increases the burden on Central and Local Government. We believe this is a price worth paying because without it we risk thousands of jobs lost, growing unemployment and more empty premises as businesses that could have otherwise supported the UK’s recovery are lost.

"It is obvious that even with an expansion of the cap, that not all businesses will benefit. What we believe to be important is that the grant scheme is reasonably extended as critically, this will help thousands of businesses in the UK to adapt to the challenges ahead."

Mark Hobson is managing director of Corporation Nightclub, a board member of Unight (which represents the Night-time community) and a director at Sheffield BID. Mark says: "The Night-time economy is vital to the future of the city both culturally and financially. Over 40 city centre pubs, clubs and bars have missed out on the £25,000 grant due to having an RV above the £51k cap and the city cannot afford to lose these. This anomaly risks putting thousands out of work and losing the local authority hundreds of thousands of pounds. Multiplied nationally, this oversight could be catastrophic."

City centre BID members adding their support to the campaign include local independent investors Sean Gregory (Smoke BBQ), Kane Yeardley (True North Brew Co which owns several venues including The Common Room, Forum Café Bar and The Old House), Adrian Bagnoli (Cubana Tapas Bar & Restaurant) and Matt Bigland (The Milestone Group, owners of The Cutlery Works and Craft & Dough).

Matt says:

“The impact of capping at £51k makes no sense. I have businesses in premises with a £55k and a £57k rateable value. The extra few thousand in rateable value does not mean my businesses will survive. They are not in a better financial situation compared to my other site which has a rateable value of £50k.

“The measuring system that calculates rateable values is a flawed scheme. We know that this is a huge issue in Sheffield and the wider UK economic landscape. In the last few months, we have seen some premises revalued. Based on the current system that is now rewarding businesses with a rateable value less than £51k, this is make or break for businesses.

“The impact for our high street and hospitality sector is huge. The high street is already struggling. Adding bars, cafes and restaurants to this mix means the independent local flair and fire will be lost. People will lose the fight and ambition to continue.

“Sheffield is great because of its people, its passion and its can-do attitude. It is individual people working for the greater purpose that makes Sheffield. Multiplied out, the UK will lose its rich tapestry of individualism housed within our economic communities.”

Alexis Krachai, Co-Chair of Sheffield’s Covid-19 Business Response Group and Vice-President of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce said: "Covid-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the economy. It is essential that the Government looks constantly at the design of the safety net put in place to support businesses and makes adjustments as the impacts on the economy become clearer. This includes looking at expanding the rateable value threshold for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. The Government must be confident to look at decisions it made in the early days of this crisis and be prepared to think again if it involves supporting viable businesses in every town and every city across the country."

Nationally, #RaiseTheBar is a collective campaign supported by BIDs across the UK and many industry leaders including British BIDs, the BID Foundation, the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM), the Night-Time Industries Association, the British Beer & Pub Association, and the Association of Convenience Stores.

In amending the rateable value from £51,000 to £150,000, we not only save businesses but we also save jobs.

Business owners and members of the public can sign the petition at change.org

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