My heart goes out to everyone who is being directly affected by the impact of Covid-19 on our business community.
We met today with leading business people from a range of industries. Some industries especially in tourism, entertainment and retail are suffering enormous drops in patronage. That’s leading to a lot of people losing their jobs.
We talked about the Government’s package this week, which was welcomed, but many businesses, especially the medium sized ones, will need more support to survive.
We also talked about what Council can do to help. The request was to ‘use our balance sheet’. That doesn’t mean stopping spending which would cost even more jobs, though I am certainly looking for sensible savings and we have already made many. What it does mean is borrowing to offset some operating costs (which we are normally prevented from doing) given these exceptional circumstances. That would mean ratepayers don’t actually pay the rates increase at this critical time.
As most of the time rates fall on landlords rather than businesses, I also asked that the business leaders give us some specific thoughts about how we could best help them through this very tough time. Local Government is also talking with Central Government about help.
Finally – and advice on this is changing by the day – if you can help support your local business community – please do. That’s the only way they will be able to keep employing people.
Kind regards, Andy