Naz Shah MP calls for more support for…

Naz Shah MP calls for more support for Bradford businesses

A LOCAL MP is calling on the Government to put Bradford “at the heart” of its levelling-up agenda, arguing that businesses in the district are still reeling from the effects of lockdown.

By Yusef Alam

Naz Shah, Labour MP for Bradford West, was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, and said that businesses in Bradford are still “hindered” by the fact that they were placed in the highest tier of coronavirus restrictions.

“Throughout the pandemic, a mixture of lockdowns, local restrictions and Brexit have put businesses under increased pressure”, she said.

“During the height of the pandemic, while the rest of the country emerged out of the second national lockdown, Bradford, among other northern cities, was placed in the highest tier of restrictions.

“This meant that businesses in northern cities such as Bradford were in restrictions and localised lockdowns longer than those in other parts of the country.

“The impact of this continues to hinder business recovery and livelihoods as we start to emerge out of the pandemic.”

Ms Shah added: “A survey conducted by Bradford Council to measure the economic impact on businesses found that 94 per cent of businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors bore the brunt in the early months of the pandemic.

“Inflation is also a considerable concern for many businesses in my constituency. According to the Federation of Small Businesses, 78 per cent of small businesses face costs arising from it.

“It is therefore clear that the Government cannot go back to their pre-pandemic business plan. Supporting local businesses means supporting the workers, families and people in our communities.

“Local businesses are not just the backbone of our economy, but a lifeline. The Government must acknowledge the disproportionate impact that the further localised restrictions had on local businesses and economies.

“In October, I asked the Government to put a freeze on business rates, which would benefit sectors such as retail and hospitality. They must increase the small business rate relief to help them offset the rise and the cost of inflation. The Government cannot be serious about business if they fail to level up business opportunity and sustainability in the northern cities such as Bradford.