Sadiq Khan has called on prime minister Boris Johnson to take “urgent” action to save businesses in London’s West End.

In a letter to the PM, the London Mayor said the coronavirus crisis has left the district facing a “perfect storm,” on course to lose a third of its retail and hospitality workforce and more than £5 billion in retail sales by the end of the year.

In order to prevent this bleak outlook becoming a reality, Khan set out eight proposals to protect the West End’s future.

He has urged the Government to confirm an extension of the business rates holiday or a discount for businesses in the central London area for the next year, and to create a direct financial aid scheme for hospitality, retail, leisure and cultural businesses in the district.

Khan has also called for targeted support for jobs and an extension of the Jobs Retention Scheme for affected sectors, an overhaul of business rates, and the introduction of a support scheme for SME’s that are struggling to meet their rent bills.

Other proposals include an extension of support for freelancers and self-employed workers in the culture and creative industries, further investment in test and trace and support for hospitality businesses to implement systems, and the exploration of other options that might increase public confidence, such as mandatory face coverings in busy areas.

“For decades central London has been the economic engine of the UK, a cultural powerhouse, and a gateway for global tourism to the UK,” he said. “But it now faces a real existential threat from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Until we have an operational vaccine in place social distancing will have to continue to protect people’s health, and with employers planning to continue home-working well into next year, the numbers of people visiting the West End will be reduced for many months ahead.

“As Mayor I’m doing all within my powers to help, but in the face of a perfect economic storm, our businesses need urgent and sustained support from Government to ensure they can survive this pandemic.”

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