Pre-lockdown event to discuss impact on Covid-19 on area’s economy
Fleur Anderson on the High Street
Just before the second lockdown, the Labour MP for Putney, Fleur Anderson, met with over thirty local businesses to discuss the impact of the continuing Covid-19 crisis and second lockdown on the jobs and business landscape in the borough of Wandsworth.
The Roundtable meeting was also attended by Darren Jones MP, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee and Steve Pinto, Chief Executive of the Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce.
Fleur Anderson said, ‘We need better, targeted, faster support for all those who need it and a 6-month plan offering certainty around the level of support available to areas of the country that might remain under restrictions following the lockdown.’
With a second lockdown having started on Thursday and many businesses and sectors already reportedly on the brink of collapse, those in attendance were deeply concerned over their future and many said they desperately needed clarity and more Government support.
Certain sectors have been particularly badly hit by the pandemic, with the travel industry and events and exhibitions industry being some of the first to close, and likely being the last to re-open and fully recover.
One attendee said, “Both my wife and I work in the travel industry, and we have seen our household income drop to less than 20%”
Another business person representing an events company said, “The events industry was the first industry to close in March 2020 and the industry that will be the last to reopen; the events industry is worth over £42.3bn to the UK economy. We have been excluded from all hospitality support packages an our industry has seen a heart-breaking raft of redundancies”
Issues raised included protracted problems accessing the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans, the exclusion of businesses who do not pay business rates from receiving Government grants, the disruption caused by the constant and last minute changes to the restrictions and the lack of sector specific support packages.
Another local business owner expressed deep anger at the Government’s re-training campaign. She said, “I found the Government’s call to re-train deeply offensive. Many have trained in and devoted their whole life to their chosen profession so to be told to re-train in something else is very insulting”
Speaking after the meeting, Ms Anderson said: “I am very grateful to all those who attended this this Roundtable discussion on Tuesday. It is of critical importance that the voices of businesses and sectors in Wandsworth are heard during these unprecedented times, and Darren and I will be taking forward all of the points made in our work scrutinising the Chancellor and Business Secretary.”
“This has been a simply awful year for businesses in our community, and I simply cannot believe that once again we are heading towards an avoidable second lockdown which is going to do so much damage to the local economy here.”
“I have lost count of the amount of times I have written to the Chancellor over the last 8 months asking for him to improve the support on offer for businesses and I have long been calling for a targeted, sector by sector by approach to supporting businesses as not all sectors are going to be affected equally by this.”
Darren Jones responded to queries from local businesses and will be taking up their issues with Ministers. He said, "Government needs to learn the lessons from the early phases of business support and ensure that tax payers’ money is being targeted to those who have been excluded or who need it the most.
“I heard how important this is for Putney businesses that are doing all that they can but struggling. When we get Covid under control we will need the creative industries, the arts, the events industry, the travel industry and other every day economic businesses to thrive as part of our recovery. They deserve the support they need now."
If you are a local business and have been affected by any of the issues above, you can join Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce’s weekly business forum or email Fleur Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org .
November 6, 2020