TEN thousand York jobs and hundreds of businesses are at immediate risk of being lost unless the Government provides more support to the hospitality and retail sectors, city leaders have warned in an open letter to the Chancellor.

The letter warning of the dangers posed by the pandemic and lockdown to hotels, pubs, shops, restaurants and other leisure venues has been sent by key business leaders and organisations, including Greg Dyke, Chair of Make It York, council leader Keith Aspden, David Kerfoot, Chairman of York and North Yorkshire LEP, Carolyn Frank, Development Manager for Federation of Small Businesses North Yorkshire and Andrew Lowson, Executive Director, York Business Improvement District.

It calls for a coordinated, comprehensive package of support for the sectors – including confirmation that the current reduced level of VAT will be maintained for a minimum of twelve months following the end of any final lockdown - and that the Business Rates relief and the furlough scheme will similarly be extended.

The letter to Rishi Sunak, also signed by Martin Bradnam, Chairperson, Hospitality Association York, Phil Pinder, Chairperson, York Retail Forum, Harkirit Boparai, of York Music Venue Network and Paul Crossman, operator of three pubs, also calls for targeted government grants and the introduction from April of a new government-guaranteed, zero interest business loan scheme to ensure businesses have the necessary working capital or cashflow to restart post-pandemic.

 Mr Dyke said safeguarding the future of York’s hospitality and retail industry was‘absolutely vital.’

He added:”The additional support measures we’re calling for are critical for ensuring that these sectors thrive post-pandemic, and that we protect businesses and jobs within the city.”

Cllr Aspden said: “York has the qualities to build back better from this pandemic, but the Government must provide the funding to support our recovery and most importantly, protect businesses, jobs and livelihoods.”

The letter states: “While we are very appreciative of the support government has provided to our sectors, most recently through the one-off grants of up to £9,000, we believe the industry, together with its extensive supply chain, has reached such a critical point that its survival in any recognisable form is now in doubt.

“In York alone, hundreds of businesses, all previously going concerns, and 10,000 jobs are at immediate risk of being lost unless decisive action is taken now.”