St Albans Hospitality and Retail association calls for further government support for local businesses
PUBLISHED: 14:39 25 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:40 25 March 2020
St Albans businesses are key to keeping a healthy food supply chain locally, according to the city’s hospitality and retail association – which is calling for further government support to ensure the maintenance of the local economy.
Another letter has been sent to MP Daisy Cooper, who has been working to help protect St Albans businesses.
The letter – signed by Sean Hughes and Mandy McNeil on behalf of St Albans Hospitality and Independent Retailers – asks for cash injections for small businesses so they can continue to run.
Mandy McNeil told the Herts Ad: “The St Albans Hospitality and Retail Association (formerly/aka Save St Albans Pubs) currently has 80 members, with more joining – working in partnership with the BID (Business Improvement District).
“We are all working together jointly and it is district-wide, working with St Albans BID on a number of initiatives.
“While pubs and restaurants were instructed to close, the government relaxed planning rules so that they could immediately operate as takeaways/deliveries and will continue to be subject to applicable licensing laws.
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“Our hospitality/retail cafés and local artisans are key workers as keeping a healthy, local food supply chain is a priority to help cushion against shocks and frankly, help develop a micro-economy.”
Many of the businesses are operating as community hubs and cooking and delivering to the vulnerable in the community.
Mandy added that the group’s aim is to “maintain a robust local supply chain, while maintaining the healthy social distancing that the government has recommended”.
Last week the government announced it would pay 80 per cent of employees’ salaries up to £2,500 a month, as a way of supporting businesses having to close amid the outbreak.
The letter sent to Ms Cooper added: “Closed businesses can’t pay staff 100 per cent upfront with no cash. 80 per cent reimbursement makes no sense either, that means businesses have to pick up 20 per cent costs.
“Furthermore, most hospitality/retail businesses don’t want to furlough employees – they want to make the new business model Click and Deliver work and will need staff.
“The government is either supporting small businesses, or it’s not.”