Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, has visited local businesses in Pangbourne and Tilehurst high streets as part of Small Business Saturday on 5 December.
Since 2013, the Small Business Saturday campaign has been a key annual moment to promote small businesses and highlights the crucial role that small businesses play across the UK in our local communities.
Last year, there was an estimated £800 million spent with small businesses across the UK on Small Businesses Saturday, with a record turnout of 17.6 million people choosing to shop locally on the day.
Alok went down to the local high streets and enjoyed visits to 03 Interiors and Vendela Rose florist to pledge his support for local shops based in the constituency. Alok met with local business owners and employees who are looking forward to welcoming back local residents over the winter months.
Covid-19 has had a significant impact on small businesses, and they have shown resolve and determination in innovating and adapting to the challenges of the pandemic. That is why this year, Small Business Saturday 2020 is an even more significant opportunity to show our continued support as a local community for small businesses.
The Government has introduced an unprecedented and comprehensive package of financial support for businesses, with a total fiscal response of close to £200 billion.
The measures introduced – including Government-backed loan guarantee schemes, VAT deferrals and business rates relief – are designed to be accessible to small businesses across the UK.
As of 15 November, nearly 1.5 million businesses have benefitted from more than £65 billion to support their cashflow during the coronavirus pandemic. The Bounce Back Loan Scheme has seen 1,397,475 approved loans so far worth £42.18 billion (This figure includes extra value from loans that have been topped-up.). The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme has seen 77,909 loans worth £18.46 billion approved so far. The Future Fund has seen 874 loans approved totalling £875.8 million.
This is on top of the extensive grant support offered to thousands of small businesses, including the Small Business Grants Fund, Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund, and the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund which have supported many in England through this challenging period. Between April and September over £11.68 billion was paid out to 999,735 business premises across the three schemes.
Further grant support totalling £2.2 billion has been made available via local authorities to support businesses during national lockdown, as well as businesses impacted by localised restrictions.
Alok Sharma said: “I was delighted to be able to show my support for local shops as part of Small Business Saturday 2020. It was great to meet local employees at 03 Interiors and Vendela Rose florist, who were happy to be welcoming returning shoppers over the festive period. This excellent campaigning initiative is more important than ever this year, as we have all had to increasingly rely on local businesses throughout the coronavirus pandemic. I encourage all those in the constituency and beyond to continue to shop locally and support small businesses throughout the winter months.”
Michelle Ovens MBE, Director of Small Business Saturday UK, said: “Small Business Saturday is not just one event, but millions of actions, taken by all of us, that add up to one big impact to boost small businesses at this difficult time. More than ever, it is a key moment to shine a spotlight on small businesses and the important contribution they make to our nation. This year, we are encouraging people to show their support not just on Small Business Saturday itself but in the coming weeks, months and beyond, in all the different ways they can safely.”