'Cliff edge' moment for London businesses as Covid financial help is wound down

London businesses hit hard by the Covid pandemic are facing a 'cliff edge' moment after Boris Johnson delayed so-called freedom day by a month.

Business leaders are urging the Government to extend financial support and warn postponing the lifting of all restrictions could be devastating.

"We're calling it a cliff edge and we've been warning of this for quite some time," said Ros Morgan from the Heart of London Business Alliance.

"Our ask of government is they need to review this. The support has always been welcome but the reality is it's always been disproportionate for London.

"London is so much more expensive to operate a business in and yet the support businesses here have received has not really reflected that.

"So London businesses have been hit hard. To take that support away at this point in time would be devastating. Our ask is while these delays continue to happen we need to see the support happen alongside that," she added

Business rate relief is among the measures being wound down as the country slowly emerges from lockdown.

Sadiq Khan and Ros Morgan at a shop in central London

But London's Mayor Sadiq Khan said reducing financial help now could push many businesses over the edge.

"The Government's decision to delay reopening for another four weeks is a perfect storm affecting these businesses were hoping we'd reopen on June 21st - that's been delayed by four weeks so they're not going to get the normal customers they would have expected - but at the same time the business support they receive is being reduced," Mr Khan said.

"We're saying to the Government please extend the business rates relief for another four weeks.

"Please extend the moratorium against business evictions and also reduce the contribution you're asking businesses to pay for the furlough scheme because if you don't my concern is some of these businesses may not be able to reopen fully on July 19th and may close permanently," Mr Khan added.

The Delta variant, which originated in India, has spread quickly in the UK making up over 90% of new cases and leading to the delay to the roadmap for lockdown easing.