Protection of Jobs and Businesses

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:44 pm on 9th September 2020.

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Photo of Nickie Aiken Nickie Aiken Conservative, Cities of London and Westminster 2:44 pm, 9th September 2020

My hon. Friend is right, and that is why I welcome this brilliant £1.5 billion package.

I welcomed the Chancellor’s announcements in March about a review of the business rates scheme, the £25,000 grant and the freezing of business rates, but I would welcome that freeze being extended for another 12 months. Another measure that the Government could introduce, which would bring in much-needed tax receipts, is an extension of the retail export scheme for EU visitors, allowing them to shop tax-free from 1 January. Such a tax reform could be worth up to £1.4 billion in additional annual sales. While 80% of tax-free shopping in the UK is done in my constituency, that would still have an impact on the UK as a whole.

Finally, adding two hours at the end of Sunday trading, extending it from 6 pm to 8 pm, would provide a major boost to the economy. While I appreciate that this is quite controversial for some of my colleagues, I would like to make it clear that I am only calling for this at the moment for international designated areas such as Knightsbridge and the west end. I am sure that there would be a knock-on effect for bars and restaurants as people decide to travel to central London later and enjoy a meal and drinks once the shops close.

We must ensure that London is seen to be open to the world so that it can continue to compete with other global cities such as New York, Paris and Tokyo. I ask the Government to consider the measures that I have suggested, to protect both London’s position as a global cultural hub and the UK’s standing as a major business and visitor destination, safeguarding millions of jobs and livelihoods across the nation. I look forward to supporting the Government as they continue to support jobs and businesses as the situation develops.