There are a number of significant talking points this week as we enter the sixth week of lockdown.

The government is due to review the current restrictions this time next week, so we can only hope for some light at the end of the tunnel.

◾️The first talking point is the #RaisingtheBar campaign. Many thousands of shops, pubs, clubs, restaurants, hotels and leisure businesses are currently unable to access Government grants. The Government must increase the threshold from the current rateable value of £51,000 to £150,000 and save tens of thousands of businesses from going under - a large number of such businesses are at the heart of our local economy.

The Bournemouth Town Centre BID has written to our MPs and to the Business Secretary Alok Sharma urging them to support this move.

◾️The second point is VAT. I believe there should be a temporary reduction in this indirect tax to ten percent for two years. This happened in the wake of the global banking crisis in 2008 and should be implemented again as a matter or urgency.

This would be a much needed lifeline particularly for the hospitality sector (already one of the highest taxed industry’s in the world and one that will clearly be one of the last to reopen and recover.

◾️One further issue to pick up from my previous column regarding commercial landlords. It is inequitable that many commercial landlords are refusing draw down rent deposits which they hold to cover current rent due. At a time when a sectors of the economy are feeling under stress it surely makes sense for landlords to use deposits they are holding as a win win giving cashflow benefits for both landlord and tenant.

◾️One final point about government assistance. The grants and job retention scheme are working well.

However other measures including CBILS loan scheme are merely ways of helping the business community to cover lost turnover caused by the lockdown. In principle this cannot be right.

The lockdown is a public policy decision taken by government to suppress the economy to protect public health. Nobody would question that it is the right thing to do but the business community should not ultimately have to bear the cost of a public policy decision made for the collective good.

We need to see far more of the costs absorbed by government and much wider use of non-repayable grant rather than loans.

◾️We have already started to make significant plans for the phased return of the retail as our high streets and town centres start to open up and get back to business.

Encouraging visitors and shoppers will be a team effort and we want to do this with our partners in the business community, our colleagues at BCP Council and the media.

Martin Davies,


Bournemouth Town Centre BID