Newbury Business Improvement District joins sister organisations in 'business booster' campaign for UK government aid
Newbury Business Improvement District (BID), which promotes commerce locally, has signed an open letter urging the UK Government to provide financial and practical assistance to the high street.
The letter, issued on December 19, was signed by organisations which claim to represent 100,000 retail, hospitality and leisure businesses nationwide, including the Newbury BID's counterparts in other towns and cities.
Among other measures, it calls for an extension on the existing VAT reduction for customers, as well as business grants and rates relief.
The letter states: "The critical Christmas trading period is in tatters leaving businesses, particularly those within the hospitality, retail and leisure sector, teetering on the brink of financial ruin and set to lose £4bn in sales.
"While we appreciate risks to health due to the Omicron variant, we cannot and should not forget the businesses who have had all but been shut down and want to continue trading safely."
Newbury BID chief executive Melissa Hughes said: "Businesses have worked tirelessly since reopening to protect their staff and customers with sensible safety measures.
"We've already seen a number of Newbury town centre businesses, particularly those in the hospitality sector, shut temporarily due to staff shortages.
"It would be yet another devastating blow to the industry if these businesses were forced to close their doors yet again, which is a distinct possibility whilst the current restrictions and ‘working from home’ guidance are in place.
"For many venues, the cost of being open outweighs the revenue they are generating, with many bookings being cancelled and people choosing to stay at home.
"It is vital the Government do everything in their power to support the hospitality sector this festive period, as otherwise I fear many of our much-loved local businesses simply will not survive into 2022 and beyond."