Making sure our small businesses get the support they need is an absolute priority.
Our in-house teams have been working tirelessly to distribute small business grants and organise business rates relief. We have trained 23 additional staff to join our business rates team so we can operate seven days a week to clear all applications.
I understand how difficult it is for any business to plan for the future in the middle of this ongoing uncertainty, and we are distributing small business grants as quickly as we can.
Some applications are more complicated which means that we have to ask for additional information. This inevitably takes longer but we are determined to make sure the support goes to those who are entitled to it, so we do have to carry out these checks.
To date we’ve paid more than £47 million out of total eligible grant payments of £73m to over 3,200 of the city’s small businesses.
I am also aware that more than 1,000 small businesses eligible for a grant have not applied and we are in the process of contacting these businesses again to encourage them to apply.
Details about how businesses can send us their details are on our Covid-19 businesses and employers web page.
In our conversations with small businesses it has become clear that there are many who would benefit from a small grant but are falling outside the category of eligibility.
We have been lobbying government to extend the small business grants scheme and last week I wrote to the Secretary of States for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy and Housing, Communities and Local Government to make the case for Brighton & Hove.
It is vital that discretionary funding is available for non-repayable grants to address the immediate cashflow needs of small businesses that have fallen through the cracks.
Last weekend the government announced a discretionary fund and we hope this top-up funding will enable us to help many more businesses.
We have made it clear, we need flexibility to ensure the money provided can be used to help avoid the closure of the independent businesses that are the essential life-blood of our city. Up until now we have had no local discretion to allow us to target support to where we know it’s needed.
When we receive the full guidance for this new scheme we will design a simple application process and set out the qualifying criteria on our website.
Looking to the future
We’ve also been collaborating with our partners in the Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership, Chamber of Commerce, Greater Brighton Economic Board and Coast to Capital, to ensure local businesses get the support they need and to plan for the time when the current restrictions are relaxed.
Looking to the future, last week we set a course for recovery when the Policy & Resources Committee agreed to establish a Covid-19 City Recovery Programme.
This will help us build a solid foundation for Brighton & Hove and enable us to create opportunities to emerge as a thriving and more sustainable city.
Councillor Nancy Platts
Leader, Brighton & Hove City Council
Where to go for support and information
Information for local businesses can be found on our businesses and employers web page. There are also FAQs about the small business grants and retail relief.
More support and advice from local organisations are listed on our self-employed and freelance workers web page.
Information and resources for the city’s culture and tourism sector can be found on our culture, events, leisure and tourism web page.
See the range of government financial support on the gov.uk website
Businesses can also check what financial support they are entitled to using the government’s financial support checker at gov.uk
Additional government resources include helplines and webinars on a range of topics to help all types of businesses understand the support available.