Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s repeatedly fails to acknowledge car park operator's plight as part of his Coronavirus rescue package
On 25 March 2020, the Chancellor announced that he was “determined to do whatever it takes to support businesses during Covid-19” as he extended business rates relief for the high street.
Thus far we have seen unparalleled intervention with 100% relief for retail, leisure and hospitality premises, with support most recently extended to bingo halls, letting agents and day nurseries.
However, many Multi-Storey Car Park Operators (MSCP’s), who rely on the custom of those benefiting from the exemption, believe that this support is not far reaching enough.
MSCP’s, of which there are approximately 1,500 in England, with an estimated combined rateable values of £187 million, generally occupy city/town centre locations, serving the needs of retail, leisure, and hospitality properties— all of whom are receiving 100% relief.
One must question the logic behind this. These sectors have been provided with rates relief because they are the hardest hit by the effects of the virus. But surely the support network should be adequately compensated also?
So what can MSCP operators do? Feel aggrieved in silence, potentially.
Philip Clarkson, Director of Business Rates at LSH, commented:
“MSCP operators are right to feel aggrieved by Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s failure to acknowledge their plight in his Coronavirus rescue package. We have seen many open their doors to provide free parking to NHS staff in recent weeks, which is highly commendable but simply not sustainable. These operators cannot continue to suffer in silence as they will soon be faced with the moral choice of whether to close their car parks and claim business rates relief, or stay open to help the community at the cost of their business’ future.”
John Gautrey, Chief Operating Officer of CitiPark, added:
“The Government has announced it is offering business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure industries to help them during this COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, under this new legislation, the Government does not recognise parking companies such as CitiPark as a standalone business in its own right, with intrinsically linked revenue streams to leisure and retail. As a result, we may have to close our facilities, all of which are providing parking for NHS staff and other key workers at this extremely difficult time.
“The parking industry is vital to our economy, enabling users to maintain social distance and help minimise the spread of COVID-19 which on public transport would otherwise be impossible. Though we support the governments’ plight to help those most affected in this pandemic, we are rallying for the parking sector to be recognised equally to our fellow businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure so that we can continue to operate and serve our customers.”