Last week I outlined some of the extra measures Ipswich Borough Council is taking to help individuals affected by coronavirus.
We are also putting a lot of effort into helping local businesses.
Councils are responsible for distributing much of the funding the Government has made available to businesses. So far, we have paid out over £5m to nearly 700 Ipswich-based businesses.
As with help for individuals, we have also been given discretionary funding to help businesses that have fallen through the cracks of the Government’s national schemes.
The Government has made grants available to businesses that are forced to close which can provide up to £3,000 per month. However, these are based on the business rates they are paying.
Many businesses have been caught out by this because, for instance, they may just pay rent to a landlord who pays the business rates. For others, the payment in no way compensates them for their full losses.
We are using our discretionary funding to loosen the criteria so more Ipswich businesses are eligible for help.
We are also targeting extra help at our pubs, hospitality businesses, and independent town centre retailers who have been particularly hard hit. This could top-up payments to £5,000 per month from November to March depending on income lost.
We are also trying to make it easier for businesses to apply for the grants they are entitled to. There are now a huge number of overlapping grant schemes with new ones being introduced at the beginning and end of every lockdown.
We shouldn’t expect business owners to have to work out which grants they are eligible for and make separate applications so they only have to fill in one form on the Council’s website. This will give us all the information we need to work out which grants should be paid.
Where we are able, we will automatically pay businesses we already have the correct information for.
However, we believe there are over 300 Ipswich businesses that may be eligible for grants but haven’t applied. We have written encouraging them to do so and our message is: “If in doubt, apply.”
Details and application forms are available online at www.ipswich.gov.uk/businessratesgrant