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East Midlands Chamber News

Leicester lessons needed as new grants announced for firms hit by local coronavirus restrictions, says East Midlands Chamber

Responding to an announcement that businesses in England forced to close due to local Covid-19 restrictions will be able to claim grants of up to £1,500 every three weeks, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) chief executive Scott Knowles said: “Businesses forced to close through no fault of their own will welcome any new grant support, but for most this will not be enough to offset the result cash crunch.

“In Leicester, the first city to go into local lockdown, we saw many companies preparing for the lifting of restrictions investing lots of money that was ultimately wasted when the lockdown was imposed at the end of June.

“Businesses that would otherwise have been healthy and able to survive were instead put into a hugely difficult position and many of these will have been forced to cease trading for good.

“We have long lobbied for a comprehensive package of support from Government for firms affected by local restrictions, which are becoming more frequent by each week.

“And while we believe the decision to provide grants, rather than just loans, is the right one, ministers may soon find the amount on offer isn’t enough to ensure businesses and jobs are protected.

“This only scratches the surface and businesses in cities like Leicester have been at a disadvantage for a long time now, so they should also be able to access this funding retrospectively to account for the harm they have already sustained.

“Lastly, the experience of Leicester – when £2.6m was made available for small businesses in the city forced to close – proved the actual funding process was slow and resulted in a lot of confusion about how it should be allocated, so it’s important the Government clarifies these points early on.”