BUSINESSES in Leicester which are struggling due to loss of trade caused by the coronavirus pandemic will be able to access a package of financial help totalling £85million.
The Government formally announced the Small Business Grant funding, and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grant on Wednesday, April 1 – the highest amount in the East Midlands and one of the 10 highest city allocations in the UK.
Leicester City Council, which is responsible for allocating the money to eligible businesses, will contact an estimated 6,000 firms across the city to ensure they get the help they need.
Upgraded payment systems are being put into place to ensure that money can be allocated safely and correctly, and an online application form will ensure the process of applying is as straightforward and quick as possible.
The application process is due to go live from early next week.
Businesses across the spectrum have closed their doors in recent weeks due to restrictions on non-essential services and travel imposed by the Government in a bid to slow the spread of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Responsibility has been handed over to local councils across the UK to organise the distribution of the funding to help hard-hit businesses to survive the current crisis.
Smaller businesses who get business rate relief can expect to apply for £10,000, while businesses in larger properties could get a grant of £25,000 in line with the Government’s grants criteria.
Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Businesses everywhere are facing extremely difficult times because of the impact of coronavirus, and this £85million will help provide a lifeline to many of those in this unprecedented period of uncertainty.
“Local authorities have been given the responsibility of working with eligible businesses in their area, to ensure the money is made available where needed.
“Obviously this is a considerable amount of money which needs to be allocated safely and to avoid the risk of fraud, and we have been upgrading our payment systems to ensure the payments can be made as quickly as possible and to ensure anyone who is entitled to this help can get it.
“For many firms it may mean the difference between their businesses surviving or not.”
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.
Business should also be aware of the Business Gateway Growth Hub – the service that integrates national and local business support to make it easier for businesses to access the help and advice they need. The growth hub is run by the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Ltd (LLEP).
The Business Gateway website is being updated daily to give employers details of how to apply for financial help, business support and help for self-employed people.
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.
Kevin Harris, chair of the LLEP Board of Directors, added: “The coronavirus crisis continues to be an extraordinary test of the resilience of the business community. Here in Leicester and Leicestershire, the vast majority of our economy is made up of small and medium-sized enterprises, which have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.
“The LLEP is committed to standing by our businesses and ensuring that all those eligible have the ability to access grant funding through our local authorities.
“I would urge all businesses to trust that help is coming, and that everyone involved in the administration of the grants are working extremely hard to expedite funding to businesses.”
Leicester City Council is working with the LLEP – a partnership 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 Business Gateway Growth Hub 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.
Find out more about applying for a Small Business Grant or Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant on the council's coronavirus business support webpage
Up-to-date information on help for businesses is available from the Business Gateway website here at: www.bizgateway.org.uk