OPINION

A coronavirus lifeline for local businesses

Posted On 29 May 2020 at 12:05 am

We are working hard to ensure local businesses get the vital financial support they are entitled to help them stay afloat through this public health crisis.

Our local businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and a key part of what makes our city special.

I understand how difficult these uncertain times are for local businesses. Every business in our city is important – be it a start-up, a self-employed enterprise, an established hospitality business and everything in between.

Each one has taken personal sacrifice, commitment and finances to get off the ground and all contribute to our local economy.

Since the government announced its Small Business Grants scheme, the council has paid out over £63 million to more than 4,600 businesses.

The business grants don’t have to be paid back but we estimate there are still up to 800 businesses that might be eligible and have yet to apply.

We are continuing to place advertisements and call-outs on social media, the council website and in local media.

We are working with our local MPs and partners in the business community to ensure all eligible businesses are aware of the grant funding available.

I am concerned that any business may be struggling and still unaware of the grant. Equally, I am concerned about giving any money back to the government if there is potential for it to help a local business survive the public health crisis.

So, I’ve also asked councillors – with their local ward knowledge – to help quickly identify any that we know to be open and those that have changed their name or closed.

Some businesses are falling through the cracks because they do not meet the criteria for small business grants. There are 13,500 businesses in the city so we believe many more could benefit.

I will be writing again to the government asking if any remaining money from our Small Business Grant Fund can be added to our Discretionary Fund.

This will allow us to help more small businesses in the coming weeks and months.

The criteria for the Discretionary Fund will be agreed at the council’s Recovery Committee today (Friday 29 May) and I can tell you how to apply next week.

Councillor Nancy Platts is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.

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