Advocacy during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Our main focus this year has been to drive the recovery of the West End in response to the pandemic and to protect our members’ interests through lobbying and media activity.

Following the recent government announcement on 4 January, we have called on government to:
1. extend the VAT relief scheme throughout 2021;
2. extend the business rates relief scheme to businesses mandated to close throughout 2021;
3. expand the grants programme and distribute to local authorities based on number of businesses not residents;
4. provide targeted support to night-time economy businesses, such as nightclubs, which have been unable to open since March.

In addition, we are continuing to lobby on our key asks, for government to:

  1. Provide targeted sectoral support to get the centre of London moving again
    • Continued incentives to keep staff in key sectors subjected to extended closure and curfews, such as hospitality, culture, and retail.
    • Extension of the VAT cut to beyond March 2021 for hospitality businesses
    • Maintaining the business rates holiday for a further period, specifically for hard hit sectors and longer-term business rates reform
    • Government-backed culture vouchers similar to this summer’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
    • A Government backed insurance scheme to cover the costs of the reopening of venues, including rehearsals and other preparations, fund the difference between ticket sales and break-even point and cover the cost of cancellation in the event of further movement restrictions
    • Help theatres contribute to London’s cultural recovery by increasing Theatre Tax Relief, and providing tax relief to supply chain businesses that supply the arts and culture sector
  2. Keep London globally competitive
    • Tourism marketing campaigns
      • Keeping Central London, a flagship global destination celebrating its culture & commerce
      • Comparative budgets with other leading global cities
    • Extending Sunday trading hours
    • Reverse the decision to abolish tax free shopping
    • VISA reform for global HNW visitors
    • Work with local authorities to close streets to create temporary arts, theatre, performance and dining spaces, and
    • More flexibilities on the infrastructure around licensing and planning permissions
  3. Recognise the importance of and support Central London Transport
    • Central London needs transport that is affordable, sustainable, safe, and keeps London flowing.
    • As a short term, we need temporary travel incentives to nudge people back into Central London.
    • And as a long-term, a 5-year, green, sustainable TfL settlement.
    • These measures include:
      • Offers of free travel into London to ease people back into taking public transport
      • Flexible ticketing for workers who choose to work from home part of the week
      • An increase in charging points for electric vehicles
      • Increased cycle storage, and greater provision of Santander cycle hire stations
      • Crossrail to open as soon as possible, with the additional costs not being passed on to business or customers
      • The return of the night time tube service

In November and December 2020, we documented our key asks for London and National Government into short-term, medium-term and long-term asks and will be using a number of tactics and opportunities to engage with key decision makers and rally support for our members.

Please see more details below about our meeting with Number 10, and the letters sent to the Mayor of London and Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

2020 Successes

  • We successfully lobbied on behalf of our members, working with partners to secure:
  • Business rates relief
  • Job support and job retention scheme extension
  • BID industry support
  • Greater investment in transport infrastructure
  • VAT relaxations in hospitality sectors
  • Continue to lead the support for the cultural sector in the West End and London.

In addition, we engaged with a number of key government officials on behalf of our members, including ongoing communications with Nickie Aiken MP, Paul Scully MP and a number of other London MPs. We also contributed to a number of debates in the House of Commons for our members via our local MP, including Nickie Aiken MP’s Westminster Hall debate on the contribution of cultural institutions to the local economy.

Central London Alliance
Our recovery efforts have led us to work alongside the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Blue Orchid Hotels, to set up the Central London Alliance, which consists of organisations of various sizes and sectors, to support a sustainable, economic recovery of London’s business, hospitality, cultural, tourism, and retail sectors.

Consultation Responses
We responded to five consultations on behalf of our members, please see below the responses shared:

  • Westminster City Council Busking & Street Entertainment Policy (submitted 30 October) – view response here
  • HM Treasury Fundamental Review of Business rates (submitted 30 October) – view response here
  • Westminster City Council Statement of Licensing Policy (submitted 12 November) – view response here
  • Westminster Cultural Strategy consultation