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Florence Eshalomi raises plight of South Bank firms in Commons

London SE1 website team

Vauxhall MP Florence Eshalomi has told the House of Commons that business on the world-famous South Bank in her constituency are already struggling with the economic impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

florence eshalomi

Speaking in the Budget debate on Monday night, she said: "As the Member of Parliament for Vauxhall – which contains the world class and famous South Bank area – I represent some of the most visited attractions and businesses in the country.

"This brings with it busy hospitality and leisure sectors that should be looking forward to a thriving spring and summer.

"But even now, when relatively new cases of coronavirus seem to be coming, these businesses are already struggling with the impact.

"Members of the South Bank Partnership of businesses have told me that they're suffering from reduced footfall and booking numbers.

"And venues are seeing a drop in bookings from Asia and mainland Europe, bars and restaurants are seeing a drop in customers and future bookings and major hotel chains have seen a 30 per cent drop in per-room revenue compared to last year.

"This afternoon the Prime Minister announced that the public should not go to theatres but they are not enforcing mandatory closure.

"This means that many businesses not be able to claim the insurance that was put in place to protect them.

"This is not working. So will the Chancellor work with me and the Mayor of London and these businesses to develop a forward thinking recovery plan that helps these companies and gives them the reassurances that they need?

"The government's measures to protect small businesses are welcome. But many of the businesses I've spoken to feel fearful about their future and the Government's package does not go far enough.

"So will the Chancellor make sure to resolve this crisis he will fund local government and give the guidance on implementing hardship funds so that we can all continue to support our local businesses?"

In a statement issued on Monday, Nic Durston, chief executive of South Bank BID and Ssouth Bank Employers' Group, said: "We are working with our two Members of Parliament, the leaders and chief executives of Lambeth and Southwark councils, and the Mayor of London's team to ensure that the economic impact of Covid-19 on South Bank is fully understood, and addressed with the urgency that it warrants.

"We are making a specific request on behalf of our levy payers – an urgent consideration for the provision of a "hardship fund" for those struggling businesses that have a rateable value above 51,000 and therefore won't benefit from the 100 per cent relief from business rates announced in the Budget.

"We know that the hospitality and retail sectors have been hit particularly hard, and we know that a fund of this nature can bring much needed relief at such a challenging time."

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