LEICESTER’S City Mayor is lobbying Government to provide more support to local businesses after it emerged the Government does not intend to provide extra financial support during the city’s extended lockdown.
Since the initial lockdown, Leicester City Council has supported more than 6,000 businesses with grants totalling £70m. But since the extended lockdown began – and despite strong representations to Government by the city council – no extra financial support has been committed.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “This is very bad news. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, did promise us that the Government would support businesses in Leicester, but now they are saying they won’t. I sympathise entirely with businesses in Leicester which have to try and deal with this worry and uncertainty on a daily basis.
“We will be asking the Government to deliver on their earlier promises and provide our businesses with the support they so desperately need.
“In the meantime, though, we are determined to come up with our own solutions, and we will be putting these to Government.”
One such solution outlined by the city council is to use £10m which has already been committed to Leicester to provide additional support for the businesses which need it most.
The money is part of £85m which was earmarked for Leicester by the Government’s department for Businesses, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for both national and discretionary grants schemes. It has not been claimed and rules state it should be returned to the Government.
Peter Soulsby added: “This money has already been paid to us by BEIS and sits in our bank account. Government do not have to pay us any further money to support businesses, we simply need permission to spend the funds we have.
“We have come up with a plan where we could provide more help to Leicester businesses by extending both the national and our discretionary grants schemes, as well as supporting those excluded from the national scheme – particularly factories, manufacturing and independent retail, hospitality and leisure.
“Extending these schemes rather than starting a new one means we could pay money out quickly – if the Government will let us.”
Any new information on support for businesses will be added to the city council’s website, where existing information on grants is also available. Click on Business Support Grant Funding at www.leicester.gov.uk/coronavirus