Burnley businesses benefited in £37m. of support during pandemic
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It has been a challenging year for businesses in many different industries, and smaller companies have been particularly impacted by the onslaught of Covid-19.
The Government has brought in a range of support packages to help businesses throughout the crisis, with emergency grants for small businesses among the first to be announced in April last year.
The Small Business Grant Fund meant firms in England which pay little or no business rates were entitled to a one-off cash grant of £10,000 from their local council. It was offered alongside the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund – a one-off payment of up to £25,000 – for small-to-medium-sized businesses.
Figures from the House of Commons Library show that in Burnley 2,271 businesses were identified as eligible for either grant, with the Government initially allocating £26.5m. to Burnley Borough Council to divide among companies in the area.
By the time both schemes had wrapped up in September, 2,023 firms had received £22.9m. – 86% of the initial pot.
Small firms excluded from these grants could still receive cash through a discretionary scheme which meant councils could award up to £25,000 to businesses struggling financially during the crisis.
Overall, Burnley Borough Council had handed out 169 discretionary grants totalling £611,207 by the end of September, from its initial allocation of £1.2m.
Although shops, pubs and restaurants welcomed customers back as the first wave eased, the arrival of the second wave in autumn meant strict social distancing measures had to be introduced once again.
The three-tier system came into effect in mid-October and was shortly followed by another national lockdown between November and December, prompting the need for further government support packages.
Grants were offered to firms that were forced to close, or stayed open but were severely impacted by these restrictions.
By January 17th, businesses had received a further £1.8m. from Burnley Borough Council, covering 1,333 properties in the area – an average of £1,355 per grant.
Pubs that mainly serve alcohol were also eligible for a one-off £1,000 payment if they were impacted by closures over Christmas – 30 had claimed the grant in Burnley by mid-January.
Since November, local authorities have also had powers to award further cash to businesses which have not benefited from other grant schemes or need additional funding.
Burnley Borough Council had given out 24 grants using this discretionary scheme by January 17th, at a total of £32,119.
Nurseries and retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England have also been given further support in the form of business rates relief – meaning companies in these sectors would not have to pay the levy for a year.
As of July 2020 – the latest figures provided by the HoC Library – 486 eligible properties had been relieved of paying £12m. in business rates.
Overall, it means businesses in Burnley have received around £37m. in support so far, not including cash provided through income support programmes or the controversial Eat Out to Help Out scheme.