Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve helped more than 70 local businesses to  access support. Now, as we face a crucial deadline of 31st March, when support and interest free loan periods come to an end, the Government must set out a long-term plan for rebuilding business.

Here’s what needs to happen:

-Use the £2bn in business rate relief, that supermarkets have pledged to return to the Treasury, to establish a Hospitality and High Streets Fightback Fund for those firms hardest hit throughout the crisis

-Set out a plan for businesses that have had to take on debt and cannot access grants as they are not legally required to close

-extend the deadlines for business rates and VAT holidays and repayments of bounce-back loans, keeping them interest free for longer

-provide proper and timely clarity for local councils on the one-off discretionary payment funds – how long should it last and what happens next?

-clarify how the £594m in discretionary funding for businesses has been calculated and will be allocated

-provide clarity for businesses about what happens if, by the time we reach deadline dates for support, there are still public health restrictions in place.

Stitch is just one example of a local business that fell through the cracks. They’ve been trying to secure grants to survive. I am helping Stitch, and many other small businesses, because I know how vital small businesses are to our local economy. I’ve also questioned the Government today on two important issues:

What assessment the Government has made to understand how the removal of retail business rates relief will impact independent retailers?

What assessment the Government has made to understand how demanding payment of bounce-back loans before lockdown ends, will impact independent retailers?

Over the next six weeks, I will be contacting all small businesses in Enfield Southgate to find out their views.