Experience Guildford, the town’s Business Improvement District (BID), is backing a national campaign supported by the country’s BIDs, industry leaders and political figures to urge the Government to offer extra support to those businesses most affected by the impact of COVID-19.

The #RaiseTheBar campaign asks Central Government to expand the rateable value threshold of all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses from £51,000 to any business with a rateable value up to and including £150,000. This would allow more businesses the opportunity to access the £25,000 Government grant to support their fight to survive the pandemic and kick-start the economy once normality is resumed.

The retail, hospitality and leisure sector is vital to the UK economy and, as such, must be protected to ensure a healthy economic recovery for the nation and safeguard jobs. The retail industry alone generated £394 billion worth of sales in 2019 across 306,655 units across the UK, whilst the UK leisure sector reached over £111 billion in sales. UK hospitality employs over 3.2 million people, making it the third largest employment sector in the UK, accounting for 11% of all UK jobs. The hospitality sector also contributes £130 billion in revenue and 5% GDP to the UK economy.

Rapidly gaining momentum, the #RaiseTheBar campaign represents over 100,000 businesses who could benefit from the initiative and is backed by key business organisations such as UK Hospitality, Night Czar Amy Lamé, The Night Time Industries Association and The British Beer & Pub Association amongst others.

Matthew Sims, Chief Executive of Croydon BID who initiated the campaign said:

“We acknowledge that by increasing the RHLG threshold up to and including £150,000 will increase the burden on central and local government. This is a price we believe is worth paying to ensure businesses are given the opportunity to become part of the greater push to mobilise our economy, rather than leaving premises empty, growing unemployment with or without the job retention scheme and sectors contracting across the board”.

Commenting on its decision to support the campaign, Amanda Masters, Chief Executive of Experience Guildford said;

“There are 184 retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in the Guildford BID area who are currently not able to apply for a grant but would definitely benefit were the government to raise the rateable value threshold to £150,000. These businesses need additional support now to safeguard them during these troubled times to ensure they can play a pivotal role in the future recovery of our local economy.

“Our high streets and the businesses who trade on them have never been more tested. Throughout the years, we have benefited from their hard work and the contribution that they pay back to the UK economy, and now more than ever before, they need our support.
“Providing essential support at this time to those businesses most in need will ultimately payback in the long run in terms of securing future jobs and providing vital funds to help re-ignite our economy once this pandemic is behind us. Failure to act swiftly could have a much deeper impact on our economy, with business closures and rising unemployment predicted.

“It is for this reason that Experience Guildford along with other BID’s across the county are supporting the #RaiseTheBar campaign and co-signing a letter to the Secretary of State asking Government to address this issue as a matter of urgency. We are also appealing to Guildford’s MP, Angela Richardson and the Guildford community to get behind this campaign, support our businesses and protect our economy.”

#RaiseTheBar is a collective campaign designed to support the people that work for and run businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. Across the UK, there are individual, personal concerns and uncertainties surrounding the economy and the effect that COVID-19 will have on them. In amending the rateable value from £51,000 to £150,000, we not only help support businesses, but we also save jobs.

To support the campaign individually whether you work in the sectors or not, you can visit www.raisethebarcampaign.co.uk and sign up to make a positive change.