Covid grant schemes approved by councillors

Councillors have agreed to develop a scheme to support businesses affected by the “plan B” covid restrictions after the government announced a new round of grants.

Brighton and Hove City Council has almost £7 million to offer business rate relief this financial year.

The Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF) is intended to support businesses that are not entitled to existing business rates discounts.

About 1,850 premises are eligible for this fund because they do not receive any other support.

An Additional Restrictions Grant of £721,124 was announced in late December for businesses that are part of the supply chain for businesses such as leisure, events, personal care and attractions but do not qualify for the Omicron Hospitality Leisure Grant.

The council’s finance team estimated that this equated to 288 awards of £2,500 each.

Members of the council’s Policy and Resources (Recovery) Sub-Committee were told that applications were open on the council’s website.

But no assessments would be made unless and until councillors backed the proposals which were presented on Thursday (20 January).

Council leader Phélim Mac Cafferty said: “Though additional funds provided to us on top of this are meagre, we will be squeezing as much as we can out of this to support hospitality, retail, leisure and events businesses that have been otherwise frozen out of accessing other government grants.”

Head of revenue and benefits Graham Bourne said that the scheme was likely to be oversubscribed, as the previous grants schemes were.

He said: “Once the fund is exhausted there is nothing more we can spend out. Our real key thing is to try to promote it and make sure that businesses that really need it are aware of it and apply for it.”

He said that officials were trying to support those businesses in the greatest financial need.

Conservative councillor Joe Miller thanked the government and taxpayers for the financial support for businesses in Brighton and Hove.

And Labour councillor John Allcock challenged him to ask the government for the £111 million that he said had been stripped from the council’s finances.

The committee handed senior officials responsibility for finalising the details of the Additional Grants Restriction Fund scheme

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