‘Fear and insecurity among many small businesses’: Islington Council calls on government to offer struggling firms more support

Stock image of Cllr Asima Shaikh and Hak Huseyin

Stock image of Cllr Asima Shaikh and Hak Huseyin - Credit: Archant

Islington’s business chief has called on central government to urgently help small businesses that are falling through the cracks of the Covid-19 aid packages and rescue measures.

Cllr Asima Shaikh last week wrote to business secretary Alok Sharma, asking him to do more to alleviate the threat to many small business in Islington that are struggling due to the effects of the coronavirus lockdown.

She asked him to review the rateable value thresholds for the Small Business Grant fund, which currently excludes large numbers of small businesses due to Islington’s land values.

For more financial support for small and micro-enterprises operating in co-working spaces and sector-specific tapering of the furlough scheme beyond October, where required, and a package of support for the cultural production business sector.

Cllr Shaik also wants the government to appeal to larger landlords to improve rent holidays in line with the gradual lifting of the lockdown, and to compel insurance companies to fulfil their obligations to small business customers.

She said: “I welcome the package of financial support the government has given to businesses in Islington to date, which has been a life-saver for many firms.

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“We have already distributed almost £50million of grant aid to small businesses, reaching 85% of our targeted businesses within the first month, and will continue to get the rest to companies as quickly as possible.

“But there is a real sense of fear and insecurity among many small businesses; there are several issues that have allowed some to fall through the cracks of the emergency provision put in place, and the impact of the pandemic continues to threaten their very existence.

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“Small businesses are the lifeblood of Islington’s town centres and high streets, and it’s vital that the local economy is protected.

“Residents can do their bit by shopping locally and the council is doing everything it can – but the government must also seize the opportunity and act to protect local economies, before it is too late.”

Hak Huseyin, of Islington Chamber of Commerce, told the Gazette: “Government have got a difficult task but obviously they have got to look at his because long-term it’s going to be detrimental to all of us. Those businesses that do fall through the cracks have an effect on everyone surrounding them because we’re all feeding off each other. When money goes into a business that’s generated several times around, every pound gets spent several times.”

The government has been approached for comment.

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