I’m extremely pelased that the City of London Corporation has agreed to launch a new grant scheme to support Square Mile businesses that have been hit by restrictions introduced in response to the Covid-19 Omicron variant. Together with a group of fellow Councillors, including my ward colleagues Alastair and Nick, I’ve pushed hard to make this happen. The scheme of up to £10 million will be targeted at businesses that primarily operate in the City of London in the retail, hospitality, leisure and medical sectors.
An estimated 1,100 businesses are expected to qualify for support. Only businesses that were in occupation on 1st April 2021 and have been in occupation continuously since this date will be eligible to apply for a grant. The City Corporation will be contacting most businesses that qualify directly and inviting them to apply for this support through an online application process. Other businesses will also be able to apply via the City Corporation website.
The majority of funding will be provided by the City Corporation, with additional financing provided through the Government’s Additional Restrictions Grant. If a business operates from more than one location in the City, they will qualify for a grant for each location.
The scheme goes further than the Government support being offered through the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant scheme which excludes retail and some personal service sectors from the scheme. The two grant schemes will run in tandem and will both be accessible through the same application process.
Businesses with lower and medium rateable values will receive higher levels of grant on the basis that SME businesses may be more at risk and less able to cope with the reduction of “in person” trade.
- Businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under will be eligible for a grant of £12,000.
- Businesses with a rateable value of over £15,001 and less than £51,000 will be eligible for a grant of £12,000.
- Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 and over will eligible for a payment of £5,334.
Many businesses in the Square Mile rely on footfall from office workers. They have faced exceptionally difficult trading conditions during the pandemic, with the reintroduction of guidance to work from home last month yet another disappointment after nearly two years of challenge.
This scheme will provide some much-needed support for sectors that have been particularly hit by the recent restrictions.
But financial support alone is not enough. We also ask the Government to set out a clear roadmap to normality so that we can get people back to their Square Mile offices as soon as possible.
In 2021, the City Corporation launched a Covid Business Recovery Fund which paid out millions to Square Mile SMEs before closing last summer following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
All firms that previously received support from this fund will be contacted directly about the new scheme by the City Corporation’s finance team.
Further information on the scheme and a link to the application form will be made available on the City Corporation website shortly.