Liverpool’s plea for business support in face of cost of living crisis

Celebrating Christmas at Liverpool One

Business leaders in Liverpool have called for a package of measures to ease cost of living crisis stress on the city, with fears crucial Christmas spending could be hit.

These include scrapping, or pausing, the National Insurance increase, a reduction in VAT, support with utility costs – there is no price cap for business – cost for transport and support for car parking.

Business rates should also be reviewed to create a fairer and more equitable system, said the Liverpool BID Company.

It said that, without support, city centres and high streets could take a huge hit with the combined pressure of increasing business costs and a lack of consumer confidence.

Jenina O’Nell, chair of the BID Company’s Retail & Leisure BID, and also centre manager at Metquarter, said: “Business is being forgotten when it comes to the cost of living crisis and without support you could see closures and job losses at the start of 2023.

“Support throughout COVID kept many from closing their doors, but the increased costs as we head into Q4 and into the new year could see many fall off a cliff edge.”

She added: “In April this year we saw that Liverpool’s vacancy rate was 8.7%, below both the North West and national average. It would be devastating for the city centre to see a rise in vacancies because business was not supported in tackling this crisis.”

Julie Johnson, chair of the Culture & Commerce BID and business operations partner at Morecrofts Solicitors, says the challenge for businesses will increase: “As the recession hits we know that both businesses and individuals are going to have challenges when it comes to employment issues. It is crucial we work to alleviate problems before they arise and that business is supported as soon as possible to ward off major impacts.”

Bill Addy, CEO of Liverpool BID Company, warned that the pressure on households will contribute to tightened spending in the critical fourth quarter period, when many businesses depend on seasonal Christmas spending.

“We finally saw confidence return to Liverpool’s high streets last Christmas after two difficult years, but a poor Christmas this year could signal problems for the city’s economy.

“As people see their disposable income diminish they could plan to spend less during the season, a time when our high street businesses rely on their Q4 income to make up for losses through the year.

“How our cities work and interconnect is critical for confidence and we need to continue to collaborate, share ideas and practice to help our cities weather this acute crisis and support both business and households alike.”