The council is working hard to ensure small businesses benefit as soon as possible from a package of measures announced by the government to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through the period of disruption caused by COVID-19.
These include small business grant funding of £10,000 for all businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief and grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
I know that these are worrying times for small businesses in particular. You have put a lot of hard work into your enterprise to make it successful and I appreciate how important these payments will be to support you in the current situation.
I'm also aware there are concerns that some business rate payers may not be able to collect/receive correspondence about potential support sent by post to their business address during the pandemic and that this opens up the possibility of fraudulent claims.
For those businesses where we hold your bank details, we are hoping to get the first grant payments out at the end of the week (3 April).
We will also need bank details of the remaining eligible businesses so that we can make their payments. We are working to introduce a secure online portal on our website that will allow us to gather information from businesses so they can receive their grant entitlement.
Please bear with us while we set up the system which will include checks to ensure all eligible businesses get their payments as soon as possible.
We are treating this as a priority and as soon as the system is ready to use, we will announce details of the portal on our Covid-19 help for businesses and employers web page. You will also find details there about accessing payments and entitlement to payments.
In the meantime we are writing to as many businesses as we can. I can reassure you that all businesses in our city will be contacted by the council if they are eligible.
If you have an immediate enquiry, we would appreciate it if you would get in touch online rather than by telephone as that will help us work on getting these payments to you. If you have an immediate enquiry please contact us online using the business rates form.
We are also working with our regional partners on ways to support business. Coast to Capital have just announced a £2 million fund to help small businesses and social enterprises. If you have a business in the city with a workforce of between five and 50 and have been trading for more than two years you may be eligible for a grant of between £5,000 to £25,000.
For more information on what's available for employees, employers and businesses, the Government has published updated guidance and frequently asked questions.
I recognise the importance of our small and medium-sized businesses to the lifeblood of our city. They will continue to have our support at this difficult time so that they can contribute to the renewed growth of our vibrant city once the pandemic is behind us.
Some of the government’s support for businesses and employers will apply to our local voluntary sector, in particular where they are an employer, and they also play a crucial part in community wealth building in the city.
Councillor Nancy Platts
Leader of the council