Tuesday 22 December 2020 / 10:30 PM Business / Ed Miliband

Almost 175,000 businesses hit by Christmas closures under last minute Tier 4 restrictions as Labour calls for Hospitality and High Street Fightback Fund

Labour is today calling on the Government to stand up for businesses and ensure those hit by unexpected Tier 4 restrictions have access to the economic support they need to survive through a Hospitality and High Street Fightback Fund.

Almost 175,000 businesses in Tier 4 areas across London, the South East and the East of England have been rocked by last-minute instructions to close, including more than 13,000 hairdressers and beauty salons, more than 8,600 gyms and leisure centres, and more than 45,000 retail businesses including clothes shops, homeware and book shops. Many of these businesses will have stocked up and taken bookings for the crucial Christmas trading period – and now face a black hole in their finances.

Yet the vast majority of businesses are only able to access an emergency cash grant worth around half or a third of the support on offer during the national lockdown in March, including 99% of hairdressers and beauty salons and 92% of gyms.

Labour has called for the £2bn recently returned to the Treasury by supermarkets in unneeded business rates relief to be urgently redeployed into a Hospitality and High Streets Fightback Fund to help struggling businesses on the high street and those excluded from support.

Ed Miliband MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary said:

“Businesses are facing a Christmas nightmare on the high street, forced to close at the last minute by Tier 4 restrictions.

“Many shops, leisure and beauty businesses just getting back on their feet have had the rug pulled from under them, joining struggling restaurants and pubs already shut.

“Businesses are doing the right thing and closing to keep people safe, but Ministers are not doing the right thing by them. We need these businesses on the other side of the crisis but the support is hopelessly inadequate, and the Business Secretary seems to be asleep at the wheel.

“The Government can’t keep leaving businesses in the lurch like this. Ministers must urgently boost support for closed businesses through a Hospitality and High Street Fund to save businesses and jobs now.”