Third lockdown: Islington businesses call for 'more clarity'

Angel Central no longer wants the huge wings sculpture. Picture: Angel Central

Angel Central no longer wants the huge wings sculpture. Picture: Angel Central - Credit: Archant

Islington's business leaders have urged the government to step up its financial support and provide more clarity for the future, so they can plan ahead and avoid going under as the UK enters its third coronavirus lockdown.

Christine Lovett, chief executive of the Angel Business Improvement District (BID) told the Gazette she is "reeling but not surprised" at Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement that the whole country will be locked down to deal with soaring coronavirus cases.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has since announced businesses will be supported to stay afloat over the next seven weeks, with one-off grants up to £9,000 available and another £594m in discretionary funds to support other firms affected.

But Ms Lovett has warned it's "probably not going to be enough" for some of Angel BID's 600 members.

She wants to know if the rates holiday and landlord's moratorium - which prevents landlords from taking legal action over unpaid rent - will be extended beyond March and whether the furlough scheme will be extended in April.

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"Across London, many businesses might not survive unless there's clarity on this," said Ms Lovett. "They might not survive anyway, because I don't know if that amount of money is going to be enough.

"We recognise that public safety is the priority, but I don't think the government is doing enough for our businesses.

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"The general feeling is the lockdown was almost inevitable but our businesses are wondering how to get through the next few months when they still have costs, and whether the £9,000 will take them through to when they can open."

She added: "The landlord's moratorium is significant for us.

"Some of our local landlords have been very generous and helpful but some have demanded full rent throughout this period when businesses have remained closed."

She continued: "There should have been more following the science, and the scientists should have been making the decisions more than the politicians. It has been extremely difficult to have to open and close so many times.

"It's very difficult to run a business when you can't plan anything."

In the new funding announcement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "The new strain of the virus presents us all with a huge challenge - and whilst the vaccine is being rolled out, we have needed to tighten restrictions further.

"Throughout the pandemic, we’ve taken swift action to protect lives and livelihoods and today we’re announcing a further cash injection to support businesses and jobs until the spring."

The Treasury has also been contacted for comment.

READ MORE: 'We are in a dangerous time': Council leader supports third lockdown

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