OVER three quarters of eligible businesses and charities in Leicester have now received business grants as part of a Government lifeline in response to the coronavirus lockdown.
Leicester City Council has so far paid out to 4,728 businesses – about 77 percent of the 6,100 believed to be eligible for help – with support grants totalling £54.8million as part of the Small Business Grants Fund, and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund.
The council expects to be able to allocate a total of £69million in the non-repayable grants. Around £14million is yet to be claimed and the focus is now shifting to encourage the 1,500 or so ratepayers which have not yet come forward for their grant to do so.
Businesses, charities and other organisations which benefit from small business rate relief are entitled to receive a £10,000 non-repayable grant. Businesses in larger premises and charities may be entitled to a non-repayable retail, hospitality and leisure grant of £10,000 or £25,000.
These ratepayers are being encouraged to visit the city council’s website to check their eligibility and submit their claim.
In addition, work is underway on identifying those who may be entitled for help under a new discretionary grant fund announced at the end of last week by the Government to help certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme.
The further £617million discretionary fund was announced last week by Business Secretary Alok Sharma.
The exact amount available for each council is due to be confirmed this week, along with detailed guidelines.
It is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs, which are struggling due to coronavirus, includes some charities, bed and breakfasts, market traders and those in shared business spaces.
Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “I am glad to see that there has been such as good take up of the financial help on offer so far, with three quarters of eligible ratepayers now having the certainly of financial assistance.
“Work is ongoing to identify those who are eligible but haven’t yet claimed – it is vital that they get in touch to get the help to which they are entitled.
“The latest Government discretionary grant was only announced just before the weekend, and we are now awaiting further guidance from the Government on how much we will get and precisely how it can be used.
“In the meantime we’ve already begun work identifying those businesses and charities which may be eligible for help, to ensure we will be able to get that help to them as quickly as possible.”
Details of all coronavirus-related help for businesses is available at Leicester City Council's website at: www.leicester.gov.uk/coronavirus
Additional information on advice and support for businesses is available on 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).
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.
Up-to-date information on help for businesses is available at: www.bizgateway.org.uk