'We need help for small businesses' mayor tells Downing Street

Mayor John Biggs calls in call for government help for small businesses

Mayor John Biggs calls for government help for small businesses - Credit: Mike Brooke

An extension of the VAT relief scheme is being urged by the mayor of Tower Hamlets to help small East End businesses. 

He is asking the government this week for more support to avoid a “catastrophic growth in unemployment and poverty”. 

“Many face job losses and massive cuts in income,” John Biggs said. “The lockdowns have been vital in tackling coronavirus, but need to be matched with support for businesses and families struggling with the economic impact, with so many firms closed and so many people in jobs that can’t be done from home.” 

The mayor has written to Downing Street setting out “some concrete steps” and urging more support for small businesses, while also pleading for the “absolutely shameful” cuts to Universal Credit in April to be stopped. 

The council agreed last week to call on the government to expand the grants scheme and to cancel the cut to Universal Credit, after the Commons voted against cancelling the £20 weekly reduction. 

Cllr Motin Uz-zaman

Cllr Motin Uz-zaman says small businesses are facing the impact of Brexit and pandemic at the same time. - Credit: Mike Brooke

Tower Hamlets cabinet member Motin Uz-zaman said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local economy and this past year has been extraordinarily difficult for them, with the impact of Brexit and the pandemic at the same time.” 

The council this week launches its Additional Restrictions grant scheme for some businesses, but is urging more government support to expand it.