Brighton & Hove Green Party has called on the government to support businesses forced to close over lockdown, including provision of further funding to councils to provide business grant support.
Pointing to the city’s arts, culture, tourism and hospitality industries, Greens said that without government reassurance that support will be in in place, particularly to cover predicted income loss in the run up to the festive shopping period, the future of many jobs and businesses in the city will be uncertain.
According to the Greater Brighton Economic Board, tourism supports around one in five jobs in the city, and Brighton & Hove has a strong creative and digital sector, with many people who are self-employed or undertaking freelance work. Further, economists from the New Economics Foundation calculated that the national job support scheme was likely to protect fewer than one in five (17%) of jobs at risk from redundancy.
Following early indications from government that business support may become available, Greens say that lessons must be learnt from the last lockdown period and allow the council to prioritise vital industries.
Cllr Phélim Mac Cafferty, Council Leader, said: “Brighton & Hove’s communities have already shown
steely commitment and will once again. But there must be solid commitments from government to ensure that vital industries in our city are protected. The arts, culture, tourism and hospitality businesses are our city’s lifeblood. Yet many were failed by the last business grants scheme. This time the government must get it right and ensure they are supported through the second lockdown period. Although there have been assurances from ministers that factories can stay open, the unique nature of our local economy will see many employers forced to close, taking another blow to their incomes.
“Although I obviously welcome the extension of the furlough scheme, I remain concerned the late announcement regarding lockdown means many employers will have already made plans and that will have included redundancies. I am getting clarity on just how many jobs and employers this constitutes.
“I also remain concerned about the impact of a second lockdown on the self-employed and join trade unions and business leaders urging the government to halt the planned cut in Universal Credit support payments to self-employed workers. We will be doing what we can to support local businesses and employees while pushing for the strongest support from government in the weeks ahead.”
Councillors have also asked for the support of the city’s residents to follow restrictions and work collaboratively to reduce the spread of the virus.
Cllr Sue Shanks, chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, added: “Brighton & Hove has seen a rapid increase in cases over the last few weeks. To protect our city’s most vulnerable we must show the commitment we all harnessed at the beginning of lockdown to stop the virus.
“We thank everyone for all they have done so far to drive down the spread of Covid-19 and once again urge people to follow the guidance and be aware of new restrictions. We all need to take action to slow the spread of this pandemic, and we can do so, together.”