This month the Government launched a new grant scheme for businesses, further widening the safety net for our local enterprises.
This grant is aimed at the district’s smallest businesses with 50 employees or fewer and people have until midnight on Thursday 11 June to apply for it. Details are at the bottom of this column.
This is another important tool which allows us to soften the impact of the coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown that has had such a seismic effect on our economy.
The microbusinesses that this support will reach are in many ways the lifeblood of our local economy. These are the start-ups and the entrepreneurs, the innovators that take an idea and a passion and turn it into something tangible.
Government guidelines on the grant have left the council having to make difficult decisions around eligibility and there is a limited fund to draw from. We will support as many as we can.
We are prioritising small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces and regular market traders, as they are most likely to need our help at this time.
The situation isn’t perfect, we expect more applications than we can pay grants to, but we will use this money to help as many of the district’s businesses as we can.
Helping each other out will be the key to how successfully we get through this crisis and the difficult times ahead.
And when it comes to helping hands no-one has put theirs up quicker than the volunteers of East Hampshire.
Last week was national volunteer week and an appropriate time to recognise the incredible efforts that residents have made to make sure no-one is left behind during the outbreak.
More than 140 community groups have been beavering away on the front lines, making deliveries and doing what needs to be done to look after their own communities.
In combination these small acts of kindness add up to a huge wave of goodwill across our district.
Even with this army of volunteers it is possible people are still struggling, or perhaps have fallen into difficulty during the last few weeks.
If that is you please do not hesitate to call the helpline which has been set up for anybody who doesn’t have the support of their friends and family.
I am aware that for many people asking for help is the last thing they want to do – many, particularly older people, are of that stoic stock that would rather ‘keep calm and carry on’ than risk burdening someone with a request for help.
But if you need assistance, if you are alone, please call us. Don’t struggle on alone.
Call 0333 370 4000 and explain your situation. The people on the line, many of whom are volunteers themselves, will be happy to help.
To apply for the Discretionary Business Grant webapge (the window to apply for this grant has now expired).