Salisbury BID is backing a campaign calling for government support for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses to ensure they are given a chance to survive as energy costs rise.

The #BusinessSOS campaign, founded by organisations representing more than 150,000 retail, leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses warns harm caused by the energy crisis is superseding the pandemic with the potential to cause irreversible damage to UK high streets and the economy.

It calls for a reduction in VAT headline rate from 20 per cent to 12.5 per cent and business energy bills from 20 per cent to five per cent, business rate relief until March 31, 2023, and energy rate relief on all business energy bills.

Robin McGowan, Salisbury BID CEO said: “Due to the current financial climate many Salisbury businesses are being forced to make the difficult decision over their business viability moving forwards. It is not scaremongering to say that this crisis could be worse for businesses than the pandemic and without comprehensive support they may not survive.

"To avoid mass closures and redundancies we are calling on the government to act immediately to reduce VAT, give business rate and energy rate relief.”

CEO of UKHospitality, Kate Nicholls, warned the hospitality sector was facing an "existential crisis".

She said: “The hospitality sector is crucial to delivering the business-led growth the new Government is striving for, but we are facing an existential crisis due to soaring energy bills. We’re encouraged by the new Prime Minister’s commitment to tackling energy prices, but we need to see urgent, comprehensive action. As well as a price freeze, we need to see a cut to VAT and a business rates holiday if businesses in the sector are to have any hope of making it through the winter.”

And the chair of The BID Foundation and CEO of Liverpool BID, Bill Addy called for an "urgent response from the government.

Adding: "Businesses recognise that they benefited from the immediate support given them during the pandemic but we are in danger of all that support being thrown away as those same businesses that have worked valiantly to recover will be decimated by the cost of living crisis.

"Business is now at a watershed moment that needs an urgent response from our new Prime Minister, they need hope and certainty if they are to survive. It is business that will ensure that UK can grew the economy out of the coming recession but do that business needs to survive and that requires urgent action.”