Islington’s Labour-run Council has become the first local authority in the country to offer direct grants to evening economy and cultural venues following the Government’s delay of the end of Covid restrictions, despite the Tories abandoning businesses when they need support the most.
While many businesses in Islington have begun to reopen, many, such as pubs and restaurants, are still operating at reduced capacity, and many others, such as nightclubs, haven’t been able to reopen at all. For these cultural institutions, which have spent a lot of time and money preparing for the reopening, this delay is disastrous.
To support these vital local businesses, the Council is distributing £1.8m in eligible grants to local cultural venues and community/independent pubs in the borough to help them survive the delay to the easing of restrictions and put them in a position to reopen when allowed.
However, the Government’s announcement to delay wasn’t met with the necessary extension of business support beyond the end of June. This is incredibly disappointing for those businesses that have suffered throughout the pandemic and could result in many going out of business and job losses. We all want to see our wonderful local businesses and venues re-opened fully and thriving, but until it is safe to do so, we must support them.
Cllr Asima Shaikh, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Inclusive Economy and Jobs, has written to the Business Secretary (see below), Kwasi Kwarteng, supporting the Labour Mayor of London’s call for the Government to continue with its full package of financial support for businesses until the final lifting of restrictions, including a further extension to the 100 per cent business rates holiday and the existing furlough scheme. Without this extension of support, many businesses may not live to see the full reopening they were preparing for.
Cllr Asima Shaikh, Executive Member for Inclusive Economy and Jobs at Islington Council, said:
“I am delighted that we have been able to award £1.8 million in extra funding to 95 evening economy and cultural venues through our Cultural and Evening Economy Support Fund.
“The venues include theatres, grassroots live music spots, comedy venues and independent pubs – all essential to creating the maintaining a vibrant evening economy in Islington, and this grant funding will be a lifeline to them as they try to prepare to fully reopen.
“We want local people to enjoy these places safely. The delay in the full lifting of lockdown will have been a disappointment to many business owners, and we hope that these emergency funds will sustain some of our best cultural and community treasures, and many local jobs, in our borough.”
You can see Cllr Shaikh’s letter here: