Media

21st June 2022

Tony Matharu discusses the impact of the rail strike on businesses on BBC Radio

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4th February 2022

In the City app launches to help recovery in the Square Mile by Primera Corporation, Brand Partner of CLA

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4th February 2022

In the City app launches to help recovery in the Square Mile by Primera Corporation, Brand Partner of CLA

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6th August 2021

The Office: Clean air becoming a key part of the return by Rensair, Advocate partner of CLA

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5th August 2021

The Office: How managers can team up with staff to rebuild working culture

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4th August 2021

The Office: Time for Government to offer certainty and direction by Primera Corporation, Brand Partner of CLA

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22nd July 2021

What’s the future of Central London?

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15th June 2021

Hospitality leaders react to UK roadmap delay

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14th June 2021

London calls for more support for businesses as 'Freedom day' pushed back

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28th May 2021

Central London Alliance and Optimiser on the role of automation and data in the city’s recovery

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13th April 2021

Number of Tube passengers on the up as restrictions ease

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12th April 2021

London Love Affair: New campaign launches to bring public back to the capital

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12th April 2021

Campaign encourages the public to rekindle their love of London

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12th April 2021

Cross-media campaign launched to encourage members of the public safely back to Central London

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12th April 2021

News with Vanessa Feltz

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12th April 2021

New campaign urges public to rekindle London ‘love affair’

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11th April 2021

New campaign urges public to rekindle London ‘love affair’

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10th March 2021

Budget will help economy survive

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19th February 2021

London businesses urge Rishi Sunak to deliver ‘Marshall Plan’ to help capital’s

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19th February 2021

London at risk of being ‘levelled down’ by pandemic, leading business

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10th February 2021

Jab hesitancy can be fatal for groups at risk of Covid

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6th January 2021

Matharu seeks continued support for the UK’s hospitality sector

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15th December 2020

Central London Alliance calls for government financial support to help London’s entertainment and hospitality businesses

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15th December 2020

Central London Alliance urges support for businesses calling Tier 3 restrictions “catastrophic” for London

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15th December 2020

Central London Alliance react to Tier 3 measures

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18th October 2020

London shops should stay open until 11pm after lockdown to boost West End, business leader says

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16th October 2020

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15th October 2020

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13th October 2020

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30th September 2020

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30th September 2020

Central London manifesto sets out ‘key asks’ for economic recovery

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29th September 2020

Central London Alliance launches to aid economic recovery of London’s business

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28th September 2020

Central London Alliance launched to help revive London economy

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5th August 2020

The City View Tony Matharu on why its time to get London moving again

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23rd March 2022

In Response to the Chancellor’s Spring Budget, CLA comments:

COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on central London and its businesses. Businesses now need to survive and recover to assist in the government’s levelling up agenda and to continue to create the value which enables London to remain the global powerbase and to generate employment and opportunities in the future. Operators of all sizes particularly in the hospitality sector have faced numerous hurdles on the road to recovery: enormous accumulated debts; unprecedented rising costs for energy and raw goods; a chronic shortage of staff, particularly skilled staff; and a fundamentally unfair and crippling business rates regime - one that we are desperate to see reformed and which disproportionally impacts London with its relatively high value properties.

We welcome the increase in the NIC threshold for employees, which will help disposable incomes not to shrink on far as would otherwise have been the case, but extending that measure to employers would help businesses to recruit and retain talent.

Thousands of businesses continue to suffer the devastating effects of the pandemic, and yet are now facing a surge of rising cost. Removing the lifeline of a lower rate of VAT, returning to 20%, penalises hospitality businesses at the wrong time and for many within the sector could prove to be fatal. If the increased prices cannot be swallowed or passed onto consumers; who are already themselves facing a cost of living crisis, soaring energy bills and spiralling inflation (6.2% in February), some businesses will fail. Locking in VAT at 12.5% could be the difference between survival and closure. Thousands of jobs could be lost. Returning to 20% will also mean the UK will continue to be uncompetitive against international rivals, economic growth will be stunted and investment decisions will inevitably be curtailed.

We continue to urge the Government to reform the business rates system which is no more than a 21st century form of window tax and unfit for today’s digital economy. The Government needs to support businesses with their cost pressures, to assist them in retaining employees and to “invest more, train more and innovate more”.

24th January 2022

Central London Alliance comments: We are delighted at the Transport Secretary’s announcement on the removal of COVID tests for fully vaccinated travellers and day 8 for the unvaccinated arriving in England from 11th February.

As an export industry, inbound tourism can significantly support and accelerate the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19 as it brings valuable new money into the country and supports over 500,000 jobs[i] in cities and regional economies across the four nations. It directly impacts the Government’s levelling up agenda, driving growth in regional towns, cities, coastal and rural communities.

Foreign tourism is also essential for the survival of the hospitality, theatre, arts and cultural sectors particularly in London’s West End; another major contributor to the UK economy, both in terms of overall tourist spend and VAT receipts to the Exchequer. This sector has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

We urge the government to continue to simplify travel restrictions with a planned end date, as airlines also fight for survival due to the collapse in air travel as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. COVID-19 measures must not become permanent. Measures must remain in place only for as long as they are needed—and not a day longer. As with many safety regulations, defined review periods are needed.

Regrettably there has been effectively a multiple language “Britain is closed” banner on our much-valued international visitors’ entrance. We acknowledge this is a step in the right direction in attracting foreign visitors, including business travellers and investors, in meaningful numbers.

 

[i] Tourism Alliance

19th January 2022

The Central London Alliance comments on the removal of Plan B restrictions.

The Central London Alliance welcomes the removal of Plan B restrictions announced today by the Prime Minister; a vital step in the UK’s road to economic recovery.   

The end of the ‘work from home’ guidance is particularly welcomed as central London businesses providing jobs and livelihoods were being catastrophically impaired with the lack of footfall and consumer confidence caused by impact of the pandemic and the responses needed to address it.

 We now urge Government to remove existing restrictions on international travel so that the sector can play its vital role in the UK’s economic recovery. A sector that is worth £28.4bn a year in exports pre-pandemic (the fifth most valuable export industry) together with contributing to Britain’s soft power credentials and to the UK’s Global Britain ambitions. We must encourage foreign visitors, including business travellers and investors, in meaningful numbers. 

Central London businesses, who have suffered through no fault of their own, need long-term support as they ride out of the pandemic and, hopefully, then move into recovery. The Government must look to secure the future of the capital and its vital contribution to the UK economy, which has already been disproportionately impacted, thereby assisting in the levelling up agenda across the country and ensure that thousands of businesses providing jobs and opportunities are not irreparably damaged.  

We urge the Government to provide full business rates relief leading to reform of the business rates system, to extend VAT reductions and to form a long-term strategy for new COVID variants. 

5th January 2022

Central London Alliance Comments on the Prime Minister’s Announcement

We applaud the outstanding efforts of the NHS in the booster vaccine delivery and they have our full support in the continued roll out.

We welcome the news that the requirement to have a PCR test following a positive Lateral Flow Test for the asymptomatic is to be scrapped, which currently lengthens the self-isolation period, together with daily testing for contacts rather than isolation; allowing the economy to keep moving.

The removal of the pre-arrival test and need to self-isolate until a negative test result is a vital step in the right direction for the international travel industry. In 2021 alone, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a 71% drop in international flights in and out of the UK[1]. With inbound tourism to the UK, worth £28.4bn a year in exports pre-pandemic (the fifth most valuable export industry) together with contributing to Britain’s soft power credentials and to the UK’s Global Britain ambitions, we must protect this sector. We urge the Government to continue to make travel easier, remove the “Britain is closed” banner and return consumer confidence, attracting foreign visitors, including business travellers and investors, in meaningful numbers.

Foreign tourism is also essential for the survival of the theatre, arts and cultural sectors particularly in London’s West End; another major contributor to the UK economy, both in terms of overall tourist spend and VAT receipts to the Exchequer. This sector has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The entertainment and creative sectors are imperative for London’s viability as a global city.

Whilst public safety is of the highest priority, as the working from home guidance continues coupled with the dramatic fall in consumer confidence and the decline in footfall, central London businesses providing jobs and livelihoods, are being catastrophically impaired. Central London’s businesses, already disproportionately impacted, particularly those in the hospitality, leisure, retail and night time economy, have already been severely damaged by the pandemic and the Government’s response to it. Central London businesses, who have suffered through no fault of their own, need long-term support as they ride out the pandemic and, hopefully, then move into recovery.

Businesses will also face the increasing burden of costs from March 2022. With VAT returning to 20%, relief on business rates for the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors coming to an end and national insurance contributions increasing, businesses are facing a proverbial sword of Damocles, despite the huge sacrifices and efforts made during the pandemic. This includes providing services for key workers and others, keeping essential public services and the economy running. Further long-term support to all relevant sectors is needed to make sure jobs and businesses are preserved and life chances and provided.

We urge the Government to provide full business rates relief leading to reform of the business rates system and to extend VAT reductions. The Government must look to secure the future of the capital and its vital contribution to the UK economy, thereby assisting in the levelling up agenda across the country and ensure that thousands of businesses providing jobs and opportunities are not irreparably damaged.


[1] Cirium

21st December 2022

Central London Alliance Comments on the Chancellor’s announcement

We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of new grants to the hospitality and leisure sectors together with other businesses, who have seen their most valuable trading period annihilated through no fault of their own. Regrettably it does not go far enough. Further long-term support to all relevant sectors is needed to make sure jobs and businesses are preserved.

Central London’s businesses, already disproportionately impacted, particularly those in the hospitality, leisure, retail and night time economy, have already been severely damaged by the pandemic and the Government’s response to it and are now being catastrophically impaired with the dramatic fall in consumer confidence. The open/close strategy and the speculation surrounding restrictive measures places thousands of businesses at risk of failure. The proposed grants do not go far enough and will only provide an immediate emergency cash injection, for some, merely scratching the surface. Any future restrictions will have a further potentially fatal impact and additional financial support will be needed together with a clear timeline for the lifting of any restrictive measures.

Whilst every pound of support is welcomed and much needed, the package proposals are insufficient and do not address all affected sectors, such as retail. Central London businesses need long-term support as they ride out the pandemic and, hopefully, then move into recovery.

Businesses now face the increasing burden of costs from March 2022. With VAT returning to 20%, relief on business rates for the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors coming to an end and national insurance contributions increasing, businesses are facing a proverbial sword of Damocles, despite the huge sacrifices and efforts made during the pandemic. This includes providing services for key workers and others, keeping essential public services and the economy running.

We urge the Government to provide clarity on any up-and-coming restrictions, to form a long-term strategy for new COVID variants, provide full business rates relief leading to reform of the business rates system and to extend VAT reductions. The Government must look to secure the future of the capital and its vital contribution to the UK economy, thereby assisting in the levelling up agenda across the country. There is an obvious need to ensure that thousands of businesses providing jobs and opportunities are not irreparably damaged and to avoid the previous financial support being wasted.

20th December 2021

Central London Alliance urges the Government to urgently save and support affected central London businesses

Consumer confidence has rapidly declined following the introduction of the latest government recommendations. Central London’s businesses, particularly those in the hospitality, leisure, retail and night time economy already severely and disproportionately affected by the pandemic and the Government’s response to it, are being catastrophically impaired. The Government must act now before thousands of businesses reach the point of no return, many thousands of jobs are lost and the ability for the UK economy to bounce back is irreparably damaged.

Following the implementation of Plan B, tube travel in London has returned to 46% of pre-pandemic levels and passenger numbers on buses are down to 71%[1]. Hospitality businesses have already seen their Christmas revenue collapse with central London restaurants, pubs, bars and hotels losing 80% of their bookings. Many businesses were reliant on December’s revenue, an estimated £9.2 billion to the sector, to see them through the bleak Q1 period and face the proposed increase in costs from March. A quarter of businesses have no cash reserves left, with another 31% only having 1 -2 months remaining. Central London businesses, who are reliant on a mobile population and footfall to survive, cannot survive without urgent and appropriate support measures from the Government.

The impact on London has been disproportionate and many businesses in the hospitality sector are under existential threat. Last year, every week businesses were closed, the hospitality sector, the third largest export earner and contributing 11% of all jobs and 7% of GBP, lost £2 billion in revenue, haemorrhaged cash and 660,000 of jobs were lost due to the pandemic and the response to it.

It is not just the hospitality sector that is under threat. Travel businesses are reeling from the new restrictions. The Tourism industry generates £157 billion for the economy and supports 3.4 million jobs but has lost £210 billion of revenue during the pandemic[2] whilst high street retailers are suffering reduced footfall in the critical run-up to Christmas.

Central London businesses, already significantly and disproportionately impacted through no fault of their own, now face the increasing burden of costs from March 2022. With VAT returning to 20%, businesses having to repay their loans as well as their tax bills, together with rent arrears, relief on business rates for the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors coming to an end and national insurance contributions increasing, businesses are facing extinction despite huge sacrifices and efforts made during the pandemic including in providing services for key workers and others to keep the economy running.

If the Government does not act now and provide the much-needed targeted support to central London businesses at this extremely critical time, thousands of businesses will close, millions of jobs will be lost and the ability to recover the UK’s economy will be severely impaired. All the time, money and effort that was ploughed into saving businesses in 2020 may simply count for nothing. Appropriate support must be provided to assist businesses who will in turn continue to make a positive contribution to the UK economy.

We urge the Government to provide full business rates relief, reinstate recovery grants, extend VAT reductions and reform the business rates system. A failure to act now risks the future of the capital and its vital contribution to the UK economy, its global status and imperils thousands of businesses providing jobs and opportunities and assisting in the levelling up agenda across the country.


[1] Transport for London

[2] VisitBritain

9th December 2021

Central London Alliance’s response to the Prime Minister’s announcement of further restrictions following the spread of the Omicron variant, 8th December

Yesterday’s announcement introducing restrictions without support will have a devastating impact on central London’s economy and its businesses, already disproportionately and severely impacted by the pandemic and the Government’s response to it.

Whilst public safety must be prioritised, the reintroduction of restrictions without equivalent support will see many central London businesses at the point of no return, condemning more into unemployment and the city centre unable to lead the UK’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

On a day when a London borough launches two specially commissioned London buses in a response to the increasing number of homeless following the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on London’s economy and Londoners (an estimated 130,000 households were made homeless due to the pandemic as of June this year[1]) it seems incongruous to be imposing new restrictions which will exacerbate the current problems whilst ignoring the need for targeted support measures.

While it is accepted the measures do not amount to a lockdown they are more than irritating with the new restrictions wiping 2% of GDP, costing the UK economy £4 billion a month[2] with London bearing the biggest cost. Such costs are not without human, health, business and economic consequences.

Many central London businesses, significantly and disproportionately impacted by prior restrictions, enforced closures, reduced footfall from commuters and foreign visitors together with considerably higher operating costs, are still in a fragile state with substantial debts. With central London businesses reliant on commuter footfall, the damage the working from home orders will have on businesses is catastrophic, especially at a critical time of the year for many sectors – hospitality, retail, theatres and the arts & culture. The hospitality industry alone has already seen 660,000 jobs lost due to the pandemic[3] and the response to it, despite the Government’s clear acknowledgment that hospitality is safe.

It is critical for the Government to reintroduce support assisting central London’s affected businesses such as those in the hospitality and retail sectors who are reliant on a mobile population and footfall to survive these latest set of restrictions and in turn continue to make a positive contribution to the UK economy. We must not underestimate the capital’s economic firepower and its importance to assist in the rescue of regional economies and assisting in the levelling up agenda.

We urge the Government to provide full business rates relief and grants, extend VAT reductions and reform the business rates system; anything less will be devastating. A failure to act now risks the future of the capital and its vital contribution to the UK economy, its global status and imperils thousands of businesses providing jobs and opportunities across the country.


[1] According to data sourced by the Observer

[2] The Institute of Economic Affairs

[3] UKHospitality Quarterly Tracker with CGA

28th October 2021

Central London Alliance Statement on Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021

We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement which includes: the simplifying alcohol duties, cancellation of the multiplier in 2022, assisting some smaller businesses by extending the business rates relief with 50% off for the hospitality and leisure sector for the next financial year, the provision of grants to encourage international firms to invest in the UK’s most critical and innovative industries and measures enabling foreign companies to relocate to the UK. Whilst these announcements are positive steps, the lack of recognition of the capital’s significant contribution to the UK economy; its role in the levelling up and Building Back Better agendas; the disproportionate affect the pandemic has had on its businesses, and the consequential need for necessity for targeted support, is disappointing.

When London prospers, so does the rest of the UK. The centre of London on its own generates £211 billion GVA, employs 1.9 million people and contributes £4.6 billion in business rates, funding the delivery of public services across the country. London has been recognised, on many international rankings, as a leading global player. London’s status as a global city, continuing to generate economic surplus, is at acute risk and the Chancellor must continue to utilise his skill and imagination to ensure its safe recovery.

The capital is set to receive less than 2% of the first round of national funding for levelling-up projects despite the centre of London being hardest hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to level-up the rest of the UK but this cannot be done by simply levelling down London; a detrimental effect on the whole of the UK economy. Central London businesses need further targeted support (see CLA asks) in order to deliver jobs, growth and investment; positively contributing to the UK’s economy.

Significant reform is needed on the inequitable business rates system based on the value of bricks and mortar (a 21st century window tax). This is a missed opportunity for businesses, the wider economy, and impairs Central London’s recovery. As one example London’s larger, privately owned hotels have seen a substantial fall in revenue due to enforced closures, travel prohibitions and restrictions and the significantly reduced demand from workers, business and other visitors.  These are combined with higher central London (and rising) costs.  The cap on business rates relief only scratches the surface of their problem as they face business rates demands very significantly above the £110,000 cap. The current system is continuing to put excellent, well established and well run businesses, which employ hundreds of thousands and make vital contributions to the creation of vibrant urban centres, at a significant disadvantage and risk of failure.

It is imperative that the Government goes further to support central London businesses, permitting them to continue to innovate and to demonstrate their world class skills and services, provide jobs, growth and investment and to lead recovery - by ensuring that the right measures of support are in place. The current pandemic has shed light on the challenges global cities face, and we must not constrain or impair London’s ability to demonstrate a sustainable recovery and its role as a leading global city.

 

28th July 2021

CLA’s Response to Government’s Travel Update

“We warmly welcome the latest decision from the Government’s COVID Operations Committee to allow fully vaccinated international travellers from the United States and European Union to enter England without quarantining. 

The success of London’s recovery is dependent upon the ability of the 22 million international travellers that previously visited the capital every year to return to our global city with minimal barriers so that they can enjoy London’s rich culture and heritage, world-renowned hospitality, and world-leading retail, financial and professional services. This sensible and proportionate step is a clear signal that London is open.

This is a positive move welcomed by the CLA and the thousands of organisations allied to the London recovery agenda. London is a diverse and world class city and the removal of barriers to vaccinated travellers from the US and EU will enable us to safely reconnect with friends, family, clients and businesses stimulating trade and investment, and marks a critical moment in the road to London’s recovery.”

23rd July 2021

Industry leaders conclude that collaboration is the key to a sustainable recovery for London

At a meeting convened by the Central London Alliance and the Urban Living Festival on Wednesday 21 July, a number of key London stakeholders and thought leaders discussed London’s post pandemic future.

The panel led by Tony Matharu, chairman and Founder of Central London Alliance, included Joe Dromey, Director, Central London Forward, Alexander Jan, Chief Economic Adviser, London Property Alliance and Chair of Central District Alliance and Hatton Garden BIDs, Baroness Claire Fox, British writer, journalist, lecturer and Director and founder of think tank, Academy of Ideas and Richard Burge, Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Attendees comprised of representatives from Local Authorities, Business Improvement Districts, from the property, arts, hospitality, charity, technology, media, transport and financial services sectors, together with business groups and residents associations, amongst others.

The issue of Government messaging described as confusing, contradictory and inconsistent was raised early on and was considered unhelpful in stimulating the confidence and reassurance needed for London’s recovery. The belief that the real scale of the crisis has not manifested itself fully to date as it has been masked by Government support stimulated debate about the challenges confronting London as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the solutions required to stimulate London’s recovery.

The panellists agreed that:

  • London’s continued position and viability as a world leading city required relevant and proportionate responses to confront existing and future challenges;
  • Issues related to tenants, landlords and financiers were still to be resolved with the suggestion that London’s real estate sector had thus far shouldered much of the pain rather than shared it;
  • London’s diverse businesses and communities cannot rely on others who stimulate and support recovery. There is an ongoing need for a non-political collaborative organisation to understand and respond to the complex and diverse needs of London and Londoners and to provide solutions on the pathway to recovery.
     

The pandemic’s impact on remote and flexible working was widely discussed, acknowledging the number of unstated and unintended consequences. The panel highlighted that not everyone has the working from home option. Baroness Claire Fox went on to address the disadvantages of working from home: “It doesn’t mean that working from home whilst a preferred option for many is the right thing for them; young people cannot learn the job from their zoom computer. You need to learn on the job. Networking, communicating with people, how to do deals and conversations between formal meetings are done on the job…”  Alexander Jan contributed that “The only comprehensive working from home study revealed that despite increased screen time workers were on average 20% less productive from April to June this year.” However, Richard Burge added “we need to stop telling employers what they should and shouldn’t do and let them get on with doing business successfully within London.”

International travel with its typical 22million visitors per annum to the capital, and the value of tourism to the UK economy was highlighted and its importance for London emphasised rather than ignored. Both the international travel industry and the capital’s local transport system are finding it difficult to recover. Members of the audience agreed that a strategy to re-open and rekindle London’s reputation, the most visited city in the country, is vital. The #londonloveaffair campaign, set to reach over 150 million impressions this summer was cited as an example of a successful self-help recovery campaign encouraging visitors to central London and to the workplace.

The panellists agreed that risk taking must be celebrated to gain positive results in driving London and its businesses towards recovery. Entrepreneurs and risk takers who are invested in London in many ways could rekindle the vibrancy and provide an organic response for London. Baroness Fox’s opinion humoured many: “London is a mess. And what a joy that is, and I want it back”.

Additional key comments and outcomes included London is key to the levelling up agenda:

  • Central London is 0.01% of the land mass but produces 11% of national economic output, 7% of all jobs and 20% of all business rates in England and Wales.  95% of Westminster’s business rates goes straight into central government coffers and is available for redistribution.  Currently London has suffered the largest drop in jobs, the biggest fall in consumer spending, the largest decrease in footfall and is the biggest user of furlough.
  • Current government policies economically speaking are unsustainable. The Office for Budget Responsibility has estimated that government debt is projected to rise by 550% by 2069.  Low growth or de-growth strategies for London will be harmful for everyone, especially for those without or with limited options.
  • The levelling up agenda should not ignore London and dismiss opportunities for Londoners, some of whom experience the highest poverty levels in the country, (combined with housing and pollution inequalities). London needs “levelling up” too.  De-growth strategies must be avoided.
  • Richard Burge stated that “Diversity must be addressed and celebrated. Our city is better off for its diverse culture and offering and we must not continue imposing policies that refrain from equality and diversity prospering.”
  • Jan stated that a “London versus the rest of the country” narrative is unwelcome and corrosive.  A more informed compelling narrative is essential, creating a common purpose countrywide.

The experts agreed that Government policies need to be informed by and respond to London’s businesses, employers, wealth creators, arts and cultural organisations and their workers and others who in agglomeration have made and can continue to make London a great world class city.

In a London where businesses and other organisations can be the catalysts for positive change, if supported, the panellists (who at times had divergences of opinion) agreed that if London is to thrive, business groups and others need to work together. Recovery will be led by the collaborative effort of many. 

Established for the sole purpose of helping central London recover from the pandemic and the response to it, being politically agnostic and occupying a unique space by devoting significant attention to the return to the workplace agenda, the Central London Alliance, with its broad reach to over twenty thousand organisations, aims to understand and respond to the needs of London and Londoners and to assist in stimulating recovery.

ENDS

8th July 2021

Central London Alliance’s response to the PM and Transport Secretary’s announcements 08/07/21

The Central London Alliance welcomes the Prime Minister’s five-point plan and the removal of government restrictions from 19th July 

The allowance for businesses to make their own informed decisions and removal of venue capacity restrictions and social distancing is critical to the survival of businesses in central London, who have suffered through no fault of their own and have been disproportionately impacted since the start of the pandemic.

The effects of some of the toughest and longest lasting restrictions on business operations have resulted in severe financial difficulties in the hospitality, tourism, culture and arts, travel and night-time economy industries and their supply chains. Targeted support is vital.

This need for urgent support and targeted action is emphasised by UK Hospitality reporting that in addition to the £87 billion lost since March 2020, the hospitality industry faced £3 billion lost in sales directly due to the four-week delay in lifting restrictions. 

Central London will experience delays in seeing any benefits resulting from reopening and it requires targeted action specifically for London including as follows: 

  • additional business rates relief to support businesses impacted by the pandemic to include hotels and the hospitality sector; 

  • reduced rate of VAT for hospitality providers and the cultural industries to be extended to March 2022;

  • reinstating the VAT refund for overseas visitors indefinitely; 

  • extending Sunday trading hours in the international centres;

  • targeted support to night-time economy businesses which have been unable to open fully since the first lockdown.

The Central London Alliance welcomes the Transport Secretary’s announcement today on lifting restrictions and urges him and the Prime Minister to work closely with the travel industry to allow international travel to return safely. Even as coronavirus restrictions are removed, the tourism industry will continue to be impacted by their effects. The industry plays a significant role in the success of the UK economy but has been severely impacted by the pandemic seeing a decline of up to 78% on results between 2020 and 2019, where international visitors contributed £15.7 billion to London’s economy – more than 63 per cent of all international tourist spending in the United Kingdom – and over 50 per cent of UK trips included a visit to London, according to the Office for National Statistics. Current dependence upon domestic visitors is unsustainable, and the reduction of international tourism in London’s Central Activities Zone has reduced London’s distribution effect, damaging national economic recovery.  

The lifting of the “work from home” message is essential for businesses from all sectors in central London to survive and to restore London’s offering as a global city, driving the UK’s economy. We must all collaborate to encourage businesses to support a safe return to the work place.

The Prime Minister was right to acknowledge the costs the restrictions have brought with them and confirmation on 12th July will be critical together with a continuation of guidelines, rather than any future imposed restrictions. Central London now has a long route to recovery and further barriers cannot be afforded. 

14th June 2021

In response to the Prime Minister’s Announcement on the Delay of Lockdown Lifting in England, Central London Alliance comments:

“We applaud the outstanding efforts of the NHS in the vaccine delivery and they have our full support in the continued roll out, but the delay announced today in the lifting of restrictions is potentially devastating for businesses, tipping some into a final collapse and plunging many into unemployment: affecting hundreds of thousands’ livelihoods.

Whilst the Government has a fine balance to strike, the catastrophic impact on central London and its businesses, already severely and disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and the response to it, cannot be overlooked. Businesses are being left in substantial debt and are at risk of suffering ‘economic long COVID’.

Hospitality, the hardest hit sector during the crisis, has lost more than £87 billion in sales and London has suffered the most. A one-month delay to restrictions lifting will cost the sector around £3 billion in sales and place around 300,000 jobs at risk. Thousands more jobs from those working in the music industry who have been without work for more than a year now are at risk, with over 5,000 planned events from festivals to grassroots music gigs now being cancelled.

Alongside the impact on revenue, businesses are now facing a jump in costs with business rates payments set to recommence and employer contributions to furlough kicking in. We urge the Chancellor to be forthcoming with support if businesses are going to survive after more than 15 months of closure and severely disrupted trading through no fault of their own. It is imperative that Government postpones business rates payments until the end of the year and engages with us on the looming crisis of landlords and tenants. Tenants have benefited from the moratorium and in many cases have not paid their landlords who are themselves imperilled by exposure to their banks and other financiers. Business support measures should reflect the level of restrictions announced and remain in place until the economy is able to reopen fully.

We must not underestimate the critical need for support now and must recognise the importance to rescue the economy. The Government must assist central London businesses to get back on their feet and continue to make a positive contribution to the UK economy – only possible if businesses are given permission to trade fully alongside appropriate support."

References: UK Hospitality and LIVE

18th May, 2021

The Lord Mayor of London Lights up ‘London Love Affair’ Initiative

Blue Orchid Tower Suites, London: The Central London Alliance celebrated the reopening of the hospitality and cultural industries last night with a ‘Love London’ event for London-based businesses, cultural and arts organisations and others seeking to assist with the re-opening of London and its restoration as a diverse and inclusive global city.  The event was supported by The Lord Mayor of London, recognising the crucial importance of hospitality, culture, attractions, travel and tourism to London’s economy.

The Lord Mayor of London, Alderman William Russel said: “Culture, heritage and hospitality are deeply rooted in the history of the City and it is part of what makes the Square Mile so attractive to visitors and workers alike.

I would like to thank Tony Matharu for launching the Central London Alliance last year – an important forum for Central London businesses. His support and contribution to the City of London Corporation’s Cultural and Commerce Taskforce, has also been incredibly important in showing ways in which culture and commerce can collaborate and bring central London back to life.”

Tony Matharu stated: “We created Central London Alliance almost a year ago to provide a non-political voice for central London businesses and to drive a faster more sustainable economic return for London and for Londoners. The Central Activity Zone employs 1.9m people and contributes £4.6bn in business rates yet it has industry sectors and sections of society which have been substantially and disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and in need of targeted support. This includes young people and those already economically disadvantaged. When London prospers so does the UK and we cannot sit back in the hope that it will just ‘bounce back’.

 “The necessity of connecting and collaborating in partnership with others through face-to-face communication is essential. The opening up of hospitality signifies an important moment on the one-way journey to recovery and return to workplaces in the capital.”

Founded in the summer of 2020, Central London Alliance, a Community Interest Company, is committed to enabling the safe, sustainable recovery of Central London.

ENDS

Contact: Nadia Perrier
Email: Nadia.Perrier@centrallondonalliance.com

12th April, 2021

Campaign encourages the public to rekindle their love of London

With today marking another step on the road to lockdown easing, as non-essential retail and hospitality businesses reopen, a campaign has been launched to encourage members of the public back to central London.

The ‘London Love Affair’ campaign has been launched by Central London Alliance, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Integrity International Group, working with media partners including JCDecaux UK, Bauer Media Group and City AM to deliver an advertising campaign on Out-of-Home media, online and radio, to audiences in London, the home counties and elsewhere.


The campaign, designed by fst, features central London street scenes, the memories that those viewing or listening may have experienced in those locations, and positively encourages a return to central London to make more memories.

Tony Matharu of the Central London Alliance, said:

“Today marks another measured step on the road to recovery for London. I’m pleased that the partners, supporters and advocates of the Central London Alliance have come together to launch a non-political campaign that encourages the public to rekindle their love affair with central London.

“Our wonderful city holds glorious memories for so many people, and it’s now time to be positive about enjoying the rich tapestry of life that London has to offer, and to make more memories here.”

People are being encouraged to support the campaign by sharing the locations that are special to them in central London, including images of their visits in the capital, by using the hashtag #londonloveaffair on social media.

Whilst a toolkit to support the campaign, including campaign images, plus further information and assets, are available to businesses, attractions and other London organisations at londonloveaffair.com. 

Richard Burge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said:

“This is an important campaign, not only for London, but also to the UK – as central London is a vital part of both the national and global economy.

“The Central London Alliance and LCCI hope that the campaign brings a boost to businesses, helps to protect the unique economic and cultural ecosystem of central London, and helps encourage safe visits to central London, within the parameters of the government guidance.  These visits then hopefully become return visits, and we can rebuild consumer confidence alongside safe covid compliance.”

The Central London Alliance, a Community Interest Company, was formed to support a sustainable, economic recovery of London’s business, hospitality, cultural, tourism, and retail sectors and to help both employers and workers to survive through coronavirus and beyond. Politically agnostic and supported by organisations of varying sizes and sectors, the Central London Alliance works towards a safe and strong economic recovery of central London, ensuring its continued viability as a leading global city.  More about the organisation’s mission can be found here.

Partners in the London Love Affair campaign include: London Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Integrity International Group, New West End Company, City of London Corporation, Primera, fst, Blue Orchid Hotels, the Company of Entrepreneurs, Glotelligence, Location Collective, Optimiser, London Taxi Drivers Association and Westminster Business Council.

ENDS.

For media interviews:
Contact: Steven Reilly-Hii, Senior Media Relations Manager, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at press@londonchamber.co.uk
or 0207 203 1897.

17th March, 2021

European Commission travel proposals could benefit London and UK recovery

The Central London Alliance has today urged the UK government to explore the adoption of the EU’s coronavirus digital green certificate scheme, and the benefits it could bring to London and the UK's economic recovery from COVID-19.

The Digital Green Certificate will be a proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19.

It will be available, free of charge, in digital or paper format. It will include a QR code to ensure security and authenticity of the certificate. The Commission will build a gateway to ensure all certificates can be verified across the EU, and support Member States in the technical implementation of certificates.  The certificate would be issued to EU citizens and their family members, regardless of their nationality. It should also be issued to non-EU nationals who reside in the EU and to visitors who have the right to travel to other Member States.

The ability to travel internationally with confidence will be absolutely vital to London’s economic recovery, and therefore the economic recovery of the UK.

The EU's proposals for a coronavirus digital green certificate sound a sensible way to safely get the continent’s travel, tourism, and trade industries moving once more.

The Central London Alliance urge the UK government to explore the adoption of this Europe-wide scheme – to provide consistency of approach and confidence to travellers across Europe.
 

4th March 2021

In response to the Chancellor's Budget announcement, Central London Alliance comments:

"We welcome the fact that in this Budget the Government has recognised Central London Alliance’s calls for businesses to be supported as they open up and beyond - the extension of furlough until September, Restart Grants, and the extension of the VAT cut for hospitality and tourism are all fundamental to the future prosperity of our capital city.

Further, we are pleased the Government has acknowledged the importance of culture with the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, supporting the likes of the West End’s world-class arts and cultural sector, although we still would like to see the introduction of an insurance scheme for live events.

Whilst welcome, these support measures focus on short-term survival for central London businesses, which have been disproportionately affected, and we are concerned that targeted investment will be needed in the medium and longer-term due to a delayed return of footfall from workers and domestic and international visitors which London has historically attracted and is so dependent on.

The issue of rent arrears will continue to weigh heavily on tenants and provide uncertainty for landlords and we have been calling for Government to set out an exit strategy to transition back to normal rental market conditions.

There was much in the Budget about levelling up the country, which we of course support, but we would argue that to achieve the best economic recovery possible, we need a thriving, prosperous London at its forefront. London needs a special recovery plan - over 1-2 years - to enable our capital to be back on its feet so that it can drive the rest of the UK economy.

As the powerhouse of the UK economy, central London businesses will need continued support and measures to help kick-start economic recovery to enable them to operate as they would in normal times and to continue to retain employees and to invest.

Central London’s businesses need to see fundamental reform on business rates which currently are punitive for certain types of business and which disproportionately hurt central London’s businesses.

Central London remains one of the world’s most attractive and competitive business locations, generating almost 10% of the UK’s economic output, widening the tax base and underpinning the UK economy. But we cannot assume it will just bounce back. It is only with continued Government support that central London can spearhead the UK’s recovery.”

25th February

In response to the Prime Ministers Announcement of the Easing of Lockdown in England, Central London Alliance comments:

“We support the Government’s approach to lifting restrictions and are encouraged by the broad roadmap of what businesses can expect which, though cautious, is based on data and evidence and will allow businesses to focus on planning for the future.

However, continued restrictions, especially beyond the current furlough scheme and business relief period, without additional business support will be catastrophic for many businesses within central London and many more jobs will be lost. A record of redundancies has already been hit with London seeing the greatest number of recorded job losses. We do not want that to continue.

The reality is that it will be some time before the economy returns to normal, and, in the near term, central London will continue to be disproportionately affected by the combination of social distancing measures and reduced footfall from residents, workers and tourists hindering businesses’ ability to operate. Central London businesses need targeted support for the rest of the year at least, and bespoke support for sectors that cannot open or cover their costs due to the restrictions. Without targeted support and consideration of the specific local disproportionate costs of operating businesses in central London there is a real and present danger that the Central Activity Zone will be hollowed out, with London's economic and social capital diminished and thousands of jobs lost.

We welcome the reports that the Chancellor is looking to extend the year-long business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure and the extension of the furlough scheme.

The progress made by the Government on the vaccine roll out has been remarkable. We must not take our foot off the pedal. Now is the time to recognise the importance to restart the economy and assist central London businesses to get back on their feet and to continue to make a positive contribution to the economy. Central London can recover but it needs help in the form of tangible economic support - not simply optimism."

29th September 2020

The Central London Alliance (CLA), consisting of organisations of various sizes and sectors, has launched to support a sustainable, economic recovery of London’s business, hospitality, cultural, tourism, and retail sectors. The Alliance is set to help employers stabilise and then recover during coronavirus and beyond, benefitting thousands of workers employed in central London.

Formed by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Heart of London Business Alliance, and Blue Orchid Hotels, the CLA is a collection of London businesses large and small, communities, charities, associations, and authorities. The CLA are pooling their resources and influence for a safer, faster, and more sustainable recovery of central London and through this the whole of the UK.

The centre of London on its own generates £211 bn GVA, employs 1.9 million people and generates a substantial tax surplus which funds the delivery of public services, such as schools, hospitals, and railways, across the country. London and its surrounding areas are the only part of the UK to contribute more to the public purse than they receive from central government. This money is crucial to levelling up the regions of the UK.

The Significance of Central London

  • Hosts over 1.9 million jobs
  • Generates a GVA of £211 billion
  • Houses over 300,000 residents
  • Generates £4.6 billion in business rates

When London prospers, so does the rest of the UK – the two are inextricably linked.

To that end the CLA has identified four specific policy asks from the government to support the recovery of central London:

1. Provide London sector specific help

Substantial sector specific support for central London businesses that cannot operate profitably or reopen due to Covid-19 restrictions; and wider support for businesses in the event of Government imposing lockdown measures on London.

2. Deliver London specific messaging

Clear, precise, consistent messaging from Government on what its Covid-19 measures and advice mean for London, especially on whether London can be visited safely and sustainably. Government should be clear about what people are still allowed to do, not just what they cannot, and back up its announcements with detailed briefings on the impact of lockdown measures on London and other large metropolitan areas.

3. Give Central London the Transport It Deserves

Better transport that is affordable, sustainable, safe, and keeps central London flowing. In the short term, temporary travel incentives to nudge people back into Central London, flexible ticketing that mirrors the new commuter and removal of the extended congestion charge. Looking more long-term for Government and City Hall to work together to agree a 5-year settlement that puts sustainability at its centre.

4. Help London compete globally

A suite of measures to keep central London a flagship global destination over the medium and long term, attracting international visitors, boosting its competitiveness, and benefitting the whole of the UK. Measures include increased tourism marketing budgets, extended Sunday trading and visa reforms for global visitors.

Policy documents here : http://www.centrallondonalliance.com/manifesto.html

Ros Morgan, Chief Executive of the Heart of London Business Alliance, commenting on the launch of the CLA said, “The launch of the Central London Alliance sends a clear message that the capital city has the leadership and appetite to recover. Central London has so much to offer in terms of culture, retail, and leisure. Central London’s dynamic businesses and rich culture and experiences are not merely job creators: they are critical to the UK’s global competitiveness.

“If the country is to recover and grow stronger in the longer term, we must all work together to get London firing on all cylinders as quickly and safely as possible. That is the overriding goal of the CLA,” concluded Morgan.

Richard Burge, Chief Executive of the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry continued, “Central London means so many things to so many people across the world. Its economy is the beating heart of our capital and our country. It powers global trade, enterprise, and investment. It is the hub of British tourism.”

“The role of the Alliance is to gather together the expertise and passion of those within central London to ensure this recovery happens sooner and sustainably. Let us talk about what we can do and see London coming together to safely drive the recovery.”

Tony Matharu, founder and Chairman, Blue Orchid Hotels and Integrity International Group commented, ““London is an unrivalled city and a global leader for business, culture and innovation; renowned and admired across the world for its enterprise and dynamism”.

“It is also resilient and now requires policies, support and positive action to enable it to remain the much loved and admired global city safely enjoyed by so many and to thrive in prosperity and health of both the capital and for the rest of the country”.

END

Notes to Editors

If you would like to become a Central London Alliance Partner or for more information please email hello@centrallondonalliance.com or visit www.centrallondonalliance.com

CLA founding partners including

Media

For more information, please contact:
Mark Casey
+44 7880 821987
Dais Comms
Mark@daiscomms.com
Or
Nadia Perrier
Nadia@centrallondonalliance.com

(Source: ARUP report on Good Growth for Central London published March 2020)

14 December 2020

“This move is catastrophic for London and particularly for its hotel, hospitality, retail and cultural sectors. These sectors, already severely and disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, are now in a critical condition and the decision to move all of London into Tier 3 could not have come at a worse time. The prospect of some slight recovery during the festive season is now gone, just as the BREXIT negotiations continue to run into serious challenges.

It has been impossible to plan with the stop/ start lockdown regime and lack of the promised, world-leading test, track and trace programme. If London is expected to go through repeated lockdowns, there must be a clear understanding of what level of support affected businesses can expect and when, to allow them to plan effectively and efficiently and to determine whether they can continue to save jobs and livelihoods.

“It is important to stress that the most severely affected sectors in Central London have been imperilled through no fault of their own. Despite considerable efforts to provide safe and secure environments they have thus far been rewarded by changing, inconsistent and incoherent directives and muddled thinking, creating uncertainty, and making it impossible to plan ahead. The thresholds, rationale and processes to move up and down Tiers and the variation in treatment of boundaries remain unclear and are not understood.

“In order to survive and retain jobs, Central London businesses need an immediate commitment of financial support that recognises the high costs of doing business in Central London. This needs to be unlike past offers of support which failed to recognise the distinct needs of businesses in London and particularly its hotel, hospitality, retail and cultural sectors.

“The Government must provide immediate targeted business support to correspond with the ‘swift and decisive’ action announced today and the articulated apparent understanding of the impact on the economy, and suggestions of new ways to protect it. The catastrophic impact on London is reflected in London having the second highest unemployment rate in the country in Q3 2020 (6%), and this is only set to substantially increase now.

“The Government, working with local authorities, must immediately roll out the long promised universal mass testing now, to ensure infection rates are properly identified and controlled.

“It is absolutely essential to keep at the very front of our minds that London provides so well for the rest of the country – the economic benefit of a thriving London stretches well beyond the capital. Central London hosts 1.9 million jobs and generates GVA of £211 billion. It alone generates 19% of England’s total business rates revenue of £4.6 billion.

“Central London is now looking to the Government and the Mayor’s office for strong leadership, rapid and effective support, and a clear strategy to make London the resurgent capital the entire country needs.”

5th January 2021

“Whilst we accept the overriding public health situation and that we are all responsible for playing our part in keeping infection numbers down, the Government is also responsible for ensuring that every viable business obtains the support it needs, for as long as needed. Survival until Spring will be futile if businesses fail immediately thereafter, so the articulated support must continue.

“Businesses require longer-term certainty and continued support so that they can sustain jobs and livelihoods and play their vital role in helping London’s survival and the UK’s economic recovery.

“The Government needs to provide a clear roadmap that will lead London out of this crisis. To help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 enforced restrictions, this roadmap must include, as a minimum:

  • Instant cash support to enable enterprises in hospitality and culture to survive and, equally importantly, continued support to assist recovery.
  • An extension of the VAT cut to March 2022 for hospitality.
  • An extension of the business rates holiday until at least March 2022 to help businesses plan their outgoings and mitigate the impact of loss of trade due to restrictions.
  • Expansion of the grants programme delivered via councils, based on the number of businesses within a borough, rather than the number of residents.
  • Expansion of the grants programme delivered via councils, based on the number of businesses within a borough, rather than the number of residents.

“When London succeeds, so does the rest of the UK. A weakened London impairs the Government’s articulated levelling up agenda. To the contrary, a successful, strong and stable London, without the shadow of uncertainty hanging over it, supports the Government’s levelling up, its Building Back Better and its Global Britain agendas. Right now, London’s status as a global city, continuing to generate economic surplus, is at acute risk and any complacency that London will simply survive because it always has done, despite the worst economic recession for over 300 years, is dangerous and must be avoided.”