Calls to support local businesses in Leeds as they battle a third national lockdown
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As businesses across the city unknowingly closed their doors last night for the last time until at least mid February, industry leaders said that the promised financial help needs to be stepped up as thousands of businesses now find themselves in a "precarious position".
Following the Prime Minister's national lockdown announcement on Monday night, the Chancellor yesterday announced one-off top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to spring. A £594m discretionary fund has also been made available to support other impacted businesses
Mark Goldstone, Head of Business Representation & Policy at the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said there needs to be a long-term plan, set out by the government, which allows all businesses across Leeds to plan, and ultimately survive.
Mr Goldstone said: "The lockdowns announced in England and Scotland will be a body blow to our business communities, hard on the heels of lost trade during the festive season and uncertainty linked to the end of the Brexit transition period. Tens of thousands of firms are already in a precarious position, and now face a period of further hardship and difficulty.
"Billions have already been spent helping good firms across the country to survive this unprecedented crisis and to save jobs. These businesses must not be allowed to fail now, when the vaccine rollout provides light at the end of this long tunnel. The financial support for businesses needs to be stepped up in line with the devastating restrictions being placed on them. Otherwise, many of these firms may simply not be there to power our recovery when we emerge once again."
LeedsBID said it was looking ahead to restrictions being lifted and supporting businesses to be well prepared.
Andrew Cooper, chief executive, said: "Clearly the latest restriction are disappointing for businesses and not the New Year start we hoped for, however, it understandable given the rationale in keeping everyone safe.
"The news of further grants to help business are welcome and it is vital that these flow through quickly to provide the essential financial support needed. LeedsBID continues to assist city centre businesses from all sector and sizes to enable them to perform stronger when the restrictions end and to provide guidance and practical help now, during the challenging weeks ahead."
Meanwhile, vendors at the Corn Exchange in Leeds, which is occupied by independent and small businesses, spent yesterday planning takeaway and delivery divisions to their offering and urged the people of Leeds to support them.
Adam Warner, centre manager said: "We’re sad to be closing our doors again so early in the new year, but we must follow Government guidelines and we look forward to welcoming you back to the Corn Exchange as soon as it is safe to do so.
"In the meantime some of our vendors will be operating takeaway and click and collect services so please support them where you can. It is more important than ever to make sure that the independent scene in Leeds survives and thrives."
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