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Businesses receive first payments from £85million grant fund lifeline

Doors of City Hall

SMALL businesses across Leicester have begun receiving payments from a financial lifeline designed to help them survive in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly 2,400 business in the city have been awarded financial help totalling over £28million under the Government’s Small Business Grant funding, and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grant funding, which were announced just before Easter.

The first payments under that scheme were made to businesses this week.

In all, 3,400 applications have been received from businesses, and payments processed to 2,363 of them.

Further claims are being processed by the city council’s Revenues and Benefits team, who will also get in touch with eligible firms which have not yet been in contact.

In all, the city council is expecting to work with over 6,000 businesses across the city to ensure they can access the package of financial help totalling £85million.

Smaller businesses who get business rate relief can expect to apply for £10,000, while larger businesses who have been forced to close their doors could get up to £25,000.

The £85m funding for Leicester is the largest amount in the East Midlands and one of the 10 highest city allocations in the UK. Charnwood was the next highest in the county at £32.5m which is expected to help around 2,700 businesses.

Lesser amounts were also allocated to help the smaller number of businesses in Hinckley and Bosworth (£22m), North West Leicestershire (£20.3m) and Harborough (£19.1m), while Blaby, Rutland, Melton and Oadby each got between £10m and just over £12m.

Responsibility was handed to local councils across the UK to organise the distribution of the funding.

Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “I am very happy to see that this much-needed money is getting to businesses across the city to help them in these extremely uncertain times.

“Because we’ve had such a large sum and so many eligible businesses to work with, it has been a much larger job than it would have been in some other council areas.

“However, the money is now getting to where it is needed and will hopefully help reassure businesses who were otherwise facing a bleak financial situation.

“We still have many more businesses to work with, and will continue doing so to ensure this money gets to them in as straightforward and quick a way as possible.”

The Small Business Grant and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant funding are part of a wider package of help and support being made available to businesses across Leicester and Leicestershire who are concerned about their future.

The website of the Business Gateway Growth Hub – a support network for businesses in the city, run by the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) – is being updated daily to give employers details of how to apply for financial help, business support, help for self-employed people and accessing benefits.

The pages bring together the most relevant national Government information with the guidance and advice of various teams working across the city centre and beyond, focusing on retail, hospitality, tourism, manufacturing, service and other sectors.

Leicester City Council is working with the LLEP – an organisation involving the city, county and district councils and local business leaders – to coordinate a citywide information service and has a steadily-growing team of advisers already liaising with businesses, who can all be accessed via the Business Gateway Growth Hub.

The LLEP has made a wide range of help and advice available online, and has been working with small local businesses concerned about their future.

Information including up to date news on what help packages are being made available both on a national and local level, to businesses struggling with the impact on their trade and staff is being made available.