More than 400 businesses across Birmingham are to receive a one-off £10,000 grant from the city council to help them deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
The capital will be paid to 421 companies in the hospitality and leisure sectors which have previously missed out on government support or require emergency intervention to protect jobs.
Councillors have agreed to use funds from the £22.8 million ‘Additional Restrictions Grant’ to help businesses which were ineligible to claim any support between the start of lockdown last March and the present day.
The funding will be paid to eligible businesses in premises with a rateable value of more than £51,000.
Last year, a small business grant worth £10,000 and a second grant worth £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure companies were introduced in England.
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Applicants had to be based in premises with a rateable value of under £51,000, leaving those in larger business addresses unable to access these particular support schemes although there were others available.
As a result, a national campaign called ‘Raise the Bar’ was launched which called on the threshold to be increased to £150,000 which was supported by Birmingham’s Michelin-starred chef Aktar Islam among many others.
Council deputy leader Cllr Brigid Jones said: “The fund has been provided to councils by the Government to enable local authorities to use their discretion to support businesses which do not automatically qualify for other grant support schemes.
“These sectors, and the associated industries, are responsible for providing tens of thousands of jobs across Birmingham and the wider regions but have yet to receive a single penny of support since the first lockdown in March as they did not meet the criteria set out by government.
“It’s important we do everything we can to protect these businesses and the livelihoods associated with them.
“This emergency intervention will provide a much-needed lifeline to preserve the future of another 421 businesses, the jobs associated with them and the wider economy.”
Council officers will identify the businesses eligible for the grant and contact them directly to notify them and request the necessary information required to process payments by January 22.
Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, added: “At the end of last year, we surveyed over 380 local businesses on where they believed they will be in six months’ time without further government support – one in 20 believed they would be closed or in administration.
“We believe the latest developments regarding the full national lockdown have made the situation even more pressing for the most impacted.
“We welcome this action from Birmingham City Council to support these businesses that were largely excluded from the small business and retail, leisure and hospitality sector grants made available last year.
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“The hospitality and leisure sector plays such a critical role in our city on both employment and its attractiveness as a great place to live, work and do business.
“For many closed businesses with a high rateable value, the current national Government grants do not come close to covering their rent, costs of furloughed staff and other key overheads.”
As a result of the latest national lockdown imposed last week, around 100 city council staff are now working to process 12,200 applications from businesses which have been forced to close or remain in partial operation due to previous tier restrictions.