London boroughs are working incredibly hard to provide funding support to businesses during the Covid-19 emergency.
Since the government announced its business support measures at the start of April, over £1bn has been distributed to businesses by London boroughs. Over the last week, boroughs have delivered an additional £154m to small businesses across London. This is happening as quickly as possible and to date, London businesses have received a higher share of funding paid than those outside the capital (73.6% share of funding paid so far in comparison to the UK average of 69.8%).
London Councils, the cross-party umbrella group representing the 32 boroughs and the City of London Corporation, says this has not been a straightforward process. For example, London boroughs have had to obtain bank details from the many smaller businesses who receive 100% business rates relief and therefore did not have a direct debit set up.
This weekend government announced a new discretionary fund to provide support for small businesses that may otherwise be unable to claim grants, which boroughs will administer quickly and fairly once guidance and funding levels have been published by government.
However, there is still more to be done for businesses who do not fit the criteria set by government and are at risk during the pandemic. London Councils has called on the government to amend their guidelines for grants to provide funding support to businesses who currently do not have adequate help.
Cllr Clare Coghill, London Councils’ Executive Member for Business, Europe, and Good Growth, said:
“We welcome the huge amount the government has done to date to support businesses and the self-employed but a significant number of London’s well-known and much-loved small businesses are still currently ineligible for grants, which is why we’ve called for an urgent increase to the rateable value threshold.
“The current £51,000 limit excludes 24% of businesses in London in comparison to 9% of those outside the capital. Raising the rateable threshold to £100,000 for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG) would protect a further 9,370 businesses and further raising it to £150,000 would provide much-needed financial support to over 13,800 businesses.
“The current criteria does not include London’s large and complex supply chain that supports the hospitality and leisure industry either. Businesses such as laundry services to hotels have lost all their work. We have also asked the government for additional support for firms whose livelihoods rely on the industries likely to recover most slowly from lockdown.
“Boroughs will continue to work tirelessly to support London’s businesses and make sure they receive the money they are entitled to. We urge any small business who thinks they are eligible to visit their local borough website for further information.”