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London mayor calls for further aid to help save the West End from an "existential threat"

The centre of London has been hard hit by the ongoing pandemic

The Sondheim Theatre
© WhatsOnStage

London mayor Sadiq Khan has called for further financial support to help the West End, which he says is facing an "existential threat".

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Khan laid out eight proposals to help prop up the centre of London both during and after the pandemic, with dwindling visitor numbers meaning the hospitality and creatives sectors are suffering significantly.

West End venues continue to remain closed with only one, St Martin's Theatre (home of The Mousetrap), planning to reopen with social distancing measures in place.

Khan's proposals include extending the job retention (furlough) scheme for retail, hospitality, leisure, and creative businesses as well as the ongoing business rate holiday, while creating a more direct financial aid scheme for central London businesses.

Furthermore, the Mayor has asked for more support for freelancers and the self-employed, highlighting how dependent the creative industries are on the massive freelance workforce.

Rental support for small and medium-sized businesses that cannot meet their bill payments is also suggested, as is providing a more adept test and trace system to allow spaces to reopen with confidence.

A few weeks ago, the culture secretary stated that it may be November before theatres will be able to reopen without social distancing, leading to all manner of venues cancelling their Christmas productions.

It's also important to remember that while the West End draws a lot of focus, venues across the UK continue to suffer – a large scale initiative occurred this week where institutions were cast in red light to highlight the crisis.

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