Labour figures [Google Drive link]

New analysis by Labour has today revealed the 20 places across the country most at risk of hollowed out high streets  because they have the highest proportion of hospitality, tourism, retail and leisure businesses – as firms warn they will go bust without further action from government.

Across England, 11.7 per cent of all businesses are hospitality, tourism, leisure and non-essential retail businesses, like hotels and B&Bs, restaurants and pubs, clothes and book shops, travel agencies, hairdressing and beauty salons. In London, the figure is 12.6 per cent.

These types of high street businesses have been some of the hardest hit during the pandemic and are facing a cash crisis. Closed from trading yet facing shrinking government support, with cash grants worth just a fraction of the amount made available during the first lockdown, they are experiencing dwindling cash reserves, burdened with debt, and fast approaching a dead end in multiple government support schemes.

Analysis of ONS data has revealed the places in England with a higher than average proportion of these businesses, with local economies therefore most reliant on their trade and most at risk if these businesses go bust:

  1. Isles of Scilly – 44.4 per cent
  2. Torbay – 20.3 per cent
  3. Cornwall – 20.2 per cent
  4. Isle of Wight – 20.2 per cent
  5. Blackpool – 17.7 per cent
  6. Brighton – 17.4 per cent
  7. Rutland – 17.2 per cent
  8. York – 16.6 per cent
  9. Thurrock – 15.9 per cent
  10. Bath and North Somerset – 15.7 per cent
  11. Dorset – 15.5 per cent
  12. Cumbria – 15.4 per cent
  13. Devon – 15.4 per cent
  14. East Sussex – 14.9 per cent
  15. Southend on sea – 14.7 per cent
  16. North Yorkshire – 14.2 per cent
  17. Nottingham – 14.2 per cent
  18. Northumberland – 14 per cent
  19. Herefordshire – 13.8 per cent
  20. Shropshire – 13.4 per cent

Some of these areas, particularly Cornwall, Dorset and Devon, are facing a double whammy – with reports of the fishing industry also struggling with the impact of new regulations and customs checks. Labour has called for the Government to urgently listen to businesses and get a grip on the problems they are facing at ports.

Labour is backing these businesses and places. The Party has urged the Government to confirm it will extend the 100 per cent business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses for at least another six months; continue the reduced rate of VAT for businesses in the hospitality, tourism and culture sectors; and to give businesses greater flexibility to manage debt including student loan style arrangements.

Ed Miliband MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, said: 

“We are facing a national economic crisis, but it’s clear that if high street businesses like restaurants, hotels, shops and salons go bust the impact will be felt much more deeply by communities in certain parts of the country.

“It’s striking that before Covid these places, from Cornwall to Cumbria, were bustling with tourism and trade. Businesses were supported by visitors and local people – and they will be again when our economy can open up.

“Standing by and letting these businesses collapse with the vaccine rollout making huge progress and recovery in sight would be absolutely devastating for business owners and employees who have done the right thing by shutting to help tackle the virus.

“The Government must stand up for local high streets and abandon the sink or swim approach. They must urgently confirm they will extend business rates relief to give struggling businesses the breathing room they need. We cannot allow these places to be hollowed out.”

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