Southport BID CEO Rachel Fitzgerald

Southport BID CEO Rachel Fitzgerald is calling on the Government to do more to help local businesses through the cost-of-living crisis. 

She has joined other Business Improvement Districts and business leaders from across the UK in demanding more support to protect local firms and local jobs. 

A joint letter has been delivered to new Prime Minister Liz Truss, as well as senior Government figures including Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business Jacob Rees-Mogg and Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Simon Clarke. 

Rachel Fitzgerald said: “We as a BID here in Southport have joined forces with other BIDs throughout Great Britain to use the power we hold collectively to do all we can to represent our business and deliver results by putting pressure on the Government. 

“This is a critical time for businesses in Southport. Energy costs and fuel bills have been rising, along with inflation. 

“We need to see urgent solutions from the Government to help them through not just this winter, but well. 

“Myself and other BIDs are pleased to see some of the measures that have been revealed as part of the ‘Emergency Budget’, which is a critical first step to resolving the cost-of-living crisis. “This is a further sign of this Government’s intention to back businesses. 

“But we all believe that Ministers can, and must, provide even more support.” 

Southport BID has now joined forces with British BIDs, as well as organisations such as The BID Foundation, The Association of Town and City Management, UK Hospitality, the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, British Independent Retail Association, British Property Federation and others. 

Between them they represent a huge and diverse group of high street interests across the private, public and voluntary sectors. 

They are all seeing first hand the damaging impact of rising costs on investment and jobs in our town centres. 

This is not just about energy but also other spiralling operating costs compounded by weak consumer confidence. 

Rachel Fitzgerald said: “This is a hugely important time for Southport. 

“Following the Southport Town Deal funding and the reopening of our high streets after the worst of the Covid pandemic, we have seen really promising shoots and business bouncing back after lockdown. This return of activity has been hard won. 

“It would be tragic for that growth to come to an abrupt halt with the closure of many businesses. “We are calling on the Government to work with us to provide a series of measures that recognises the other short-term pressures to help businesses through the winter.” 

Southport BID and others have proposed a series of suggestions that can help. They include: 

  • Business Rates Relief: 100% business rates relief between the 1st October 2022 to the 31st March 2023 to help high street businesses cope with significant and immediate cost pressures they face. 
  • VAT: Reduce headline VAT for retail, leisure and hospitality sectors to provide a double boost by bringing down costs for low-income households through the winter and driving spend for struggling businesses. 
  • Bring the VAT rate on business energy bills in line with VAT rate on domestic energy bills. 

Rachel Fitzgerald said: “These measures would not only be vital for high street business survival, but it would also protect jobs and allow us to develop a long-term framework that would create the conditions for a thriving mix of commercial and community uses on the nation’s high streets.” 


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