Bristol organisations get behind national #RaiseTheBar campaign

Bristol organisations get behind national #RaiseTheBar campaign

Posted on: 12 Jun 2020

So far, several local organisations and established have backed the campaign which is warning of mass redundancies in retail, hospitality and leisure. 


#RaiseTheBar is a national campaign calling on the government to provide greater support to high street businesses during coronavirus.


The campaign has been backed by several local organisations, including the Bristol City Centre Business Improvement District (BID) and the Bristol Association of Restaurants, Bars and Independent Establishments (BARBIE).


Venues in the city centre, including the Milk Thistle on Colston Avenue and No 1 Harbourside, have also backed the campaign. 


The campaign is calling on the government to raise the threshold of its Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Grant (RHLG), to help at-risk businesses through coronavirus, protecting jobs across the sector. 



Currently, businesses such as pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés are only eligible for the £25,000 grant if the premises they operate from has a rateable value of less than £51,000.


It has meant that large numbers of leisure and hospitality businesses based in larger buildings in Bristol have not been eligible for said financial support.


And so, the campaign is encouraging the government to expand the rateable value threshold for eligible businesses to access the RHLG from £51,000 up to £150,000.


Without such expansion, the Bristol BID and BARBIE have argued, some local businesses are at risk of collapse.


They say the grant will mean the difference between survival and bankruptcy for high street businesses not just in Bristol but across the country.


Therefore, they have argued that hundreds of Bristol employees who have been protected by the Coronavirus Job Retention (furlough) Scheme could also have no job to return to when the scheme ends, risking mass redundancies.


BARBIE has said it is currently working with 60 at-risk businesses which have not been eligible for government grants, 14 of which are at high risk. Together the businesses employ 200 people.
The Bristol BID organised this year’s Bristol Light FestivalThe Bristol BID organised the Bristol Light Festival, which took place earlier this year. Photo by Andre Pattenden.


Keith Rundle, operations director at Bristol City Centre BID said:


“The furlough scheme has been a life-line for thousands of Bristol employees as we continue to battle all that the COVID pandemic throws at us.


“But it will all be wasted if as the scheme is wound up, staff find themselves with no employer or business to return to.


“With rents due and costs of putting in protection measures prior to safely re-opening, businesses need access to financial support now more than ever - to ensure they can get back up and running, keep people in jobs and help get the economy moving again.”


Amy Devenish, owner of The Gloucester Old Spot, said:


“Simply because a business has a rateable value set at a certain level by the council, it should not immediately assume that the business is any better able to survive a crisis like this.


“A sliding scale of grants would have been a much fairer solution.”


Kwan Voong, owner of Toro Noodle Bar, said: 


“There are a huge number of Bristol businesses over the £51k RV cap and we need urgent support as has been provided by councils such as Camden, Hackney and Lambeth who are using their additional discretionary grants to support the hospitality sector.” 


Brendan Murphy, co-founder of BARBIE, added:


“Urgent intervention and support are required to stop the industry collapsing, and support is required now - not in 3 months.”

For more information, visit the #RaiseTheBar website

Main image: Martyna Bober / Unsplash

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Kate Hutchison


Kate Hutchison

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