In response to the Chancellor’s 2021 Budget Statement, WPA Chair Olivia Harris said:
“The support for business through this crisis has been unprecedented. We fully support the move today to extend the business rates holiday and furlough scheme, and introduction of Restart Grants, which will help the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors bridge the gap until the restrictions are eased and trading can resume.
“However, in the Chancellor’s vision for rebuilding the economy we hoped there would be more recognition of the specific challenges facing city centres, which make an enormous national contribution and have been disproportionately affected by the absence of workers and tourists.
“The Chancellor laid bare the fiscal cost of the pandemic, but beyond funding there are many levers Government can pull.
“We hoped to see some indications that he would consider radical and forward-looking policies to help city centre businesses adapt to a new normal, such as flexibility around planning and trading and licensing hours.
“Furthermore, the Chancellor missed the opportunity to reverse the decision to end tax-free shopping for tourists which will deter international visitors and decrease footfall to the struggling businesses he is trying to protect through the business rates holiday.
“Moving forward, to support the return of office workers, we also need clear guidance on the reoccupation of workplaces as part of the Government’s re-opening roadmap and plans to manage congestion on public transport.
“We also call for the speedy and fundamental review of the business rates system that is fit-for purpose, fair and responds to a 21st century digital economy.
“The Government has provided significant and essential support over the last 12 months to help businesses and protect jobs. It must now look to continue this, and ensure that support given so far is not wasted, with a more ambitious plan for city centres as the engines of the economic recovery.”
Olivia Harris – Chair of Westminster Property Association
Read more about our Budget for Recovery, set out in an open letter to the Chancellor from London Property Alliance (WPA + CPA).Our Budget for Recovery