City Corporation urges greater support for Square Mile businesses through COVID-19 outbreak

The City of London Corporation’s Policy Chair, Catherine McGuinness, has today written to the Chancellor calling on the Government to bring forward further measures to financially support City and wider-London businesses.

The Chancellor announced a raft of measures in the Budget last Wednesday designed to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in particular, including some that directly impact on business rates.

But at present, less than 1,000 out of 22,000 business rate payers in the City are expected to be eligible for any assistance. In her letter, Ms McGuinness urges the Government to broaden relief to support a wider range of City and London businesses during this unparalleled economic period.

She suggests such measures could include:

  • an instalment payment holiday for businesses in the City;
  • an increase in the rateable value threshold for Retail Relief;
  • an undertaking from Central Government to fully fund a local relief scheme under existing National Non Domestic Rates legislation

In addition, Ms McGuinness has called on the Government to recognise and support the vibrant cultural sector, which provides a vital contribution to the wider economy, particularly in London.

The City of London is home to a wide range of industries, including the financial sector which alone contributes a total of £75.5bn to the public purse – representing 10.5% of all UK tax receipts.

Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chair at the City of London Corporation, said:

“The Square Mile is a business hub known for its iconic institutions and towers. But corner shops, restaurants and other smaller firms make an equally vital contribution, as does its vibrant cultural sector. With a very small residential population and with more companies allowing staff to work from home or closing their offices entirely, the impact of the current outbreak on City retail and leisure businesses could be devastating.

“We welcome the measures outlined in the Budget to support households and businesses, particularly SMEs. Unfortunately, however, they only cover a small fraction of those firms based in the City as currently designed. We hope that the Chancellor takes urgent action to address this issue and support businesses based in the Square Mile and wider-London in these extremely challenging times.”

Notes to editors

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK.

Last week, the City Corporation urged businesses in the Square Mile to take advantage of measures announced in the Budget to support them through the COVID-19 pandemic, with the City of London Corporation pledging to support firms struggling as a result of the current outbreak.