Ahead of the budget on 3 March, I am calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to include your concerns – so many of you have written to me about the financial support and measures that you need to allow your business to re-open and recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic.
If you live in Bristol West (check here) and run a business which needs support, I want to know what else you need. Please look out for an event I will be holding on Friday 26 February at 3pm, where you can tell me more about your business or the sector you work in. More details to follow shortly.
Here are some of the concerns that Bristol’s business people, particularly small business owners, have written to me about, together with what I am calling for in response, ahead of the budget statement on 3 March:
- Reversing the Chancellor’s plan to ‘pause’ pay for most public sector workers and ensure that many key workers, such as teachers, police, and prison staff don’t see a real term pay cut, taking into account inflation.
- Keep the extra £20 on Universal Credit. It’s wrong for the government to plan to cut £20 from Universal Credit – and I am calling for this to be kept.
- Extending the furlough scheme – I am calling for the furlough scheme to be extended so that it lasts as long as health restrictions are in place. It must go beyond the end of
April and must remain the level that it is now. For organisations which are still struggling after restrictions have been lifted, they should still be able to access the scheme.
- Extending business rates relief – Labour is calling for the 100% business rates relief for retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses to be extended for at least a further 6 months. I will be making speaking to the Treasury Team to ensure that this includes hard-hit events companies and those in the hospitality supply line.
- Reducing VAT – I know that many of you have been asking for this and I want the government to extend the temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT for the hospitality, tourism, and culture sectors in until October 1, or three months after restrictions have been lifted.
- Support on debt – Labour’s proposal is for all businesses who have borrowed through the Bounce Back Loan Scheme to have the option to delay repayments until they are growing again.
- Kickstart scheme – I want the Kickstart scheme to be overhauled to ensure that it reaches the young people that need it and make it much easier for employers to take part.
Alongside these emergency support packages, I will continue to call for proper support for those that need to self-isolate and for the government to fill the gaps for the millions of self-employed people who’ve been excluded from support so far.