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East Midlands Chamber News

Chamber welcomes grants ‘top up’ to help small businesses

Business Secretary Alok Sharma has announced that an additional £617m ‘top up’ to the Coronavirus Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF) would be made available.

The extra funding is aimed at supporting small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs, including businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders and small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, along with bed and breakfasts and other businesses that pay Council Tax rather than business rates.

Commenting, Scott Knowles, Chief Executive of East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire), said: “This move is welcome and will go some way to reducing many of the issues members have raised with us about not being able to access SBGF or RHLGF because they occupy shared space or multi-tenanted premises.

“However, it’s vital that the businesses which need it can access this additional emergency funding quickly, as every day of delay is having a critical impact. So, we would urge all local authorities to follow proven best practice and prioritise cases which meet this expanded criterion.”

Commenting on the week ahead, in which Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to unveil the Government’s detailed plans to restart the economy, Mr Knowles added: “Having more certainty about what the future looks like will help many businesses to make key decisions and plan how they can make their way out of lockdown most effectively.   

“While keeping people safe to help save lives, slow the spread of the virus and take pressure off the NHS should, rightly, still be the top priority, getting the economy up and running again as quickly as possible is key to ensuring the recovery is both swift sustainable.

“Allowing businesses which are currently in lockdown to return to work – provided social distancing guidelines are followed – will be an important first step in rebooting the economy and needs to happen as soon as it’s safe to do so.”