Cllr Millard: We are here to help businesses

Tuesday, 14 April, 2020

The Government’s very necessary rules on social distancing have changed the way we live our life, and will strangle the spread of the disease, but it has had a devastating effect on our local businesses.

One of East Hampshire District Council’s prime responsibilities during the crisis is to support businesses who have been struck by a sudden and debilitating loss of income.

As a businessman myself I know that if businesses do not keep moving forward, they die. There are more than 2,000 businesses in the district, and each one is the product of a life’s work, of dedication and passion and determination.

People are desperate. They are watching what they have built begin to fall apart and there is real pain, and real suffering.

We are here to do anything we can to help.

Last week the Government delivered its rescue fund to councils such as ours and asked them to disseminate this cash lifeline to eligible businesses.

At the time of writing we have given out more than £11 million to 960 local businesses – around half the total. We expect the rest to be issued by the end of this week (Friday 17 April).

As a small business owner, I know how vital these grants will be to keep businesses afloat during the coronavirus outbreak.

The fact we have been able to process so many grants and get such a significant amount of money to these businesses gives me a great sense of pride in the work of the council’s dedicated staff.

I am not going to pretend that these grants will put to rest all of the concerns that businesses will have as this crisis continues, but all East Hampshire businesses should know that we are here for them and will do everything we can to help them get through this.

And as the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself said, the government’s schemes will not be able to help everyone.

We are doing anything we can to help self-employed people and people who are not eligible for the government grant money. We are being innovative and creative and looking at everything on a case by case basis.

There are two grants available:

Small Business Grants - a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses that pay little or no businesses rates

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants - provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property

Letters have been sent to all eligible businesses in the district and an automated form can be accessed 24/7 via the business support webpage.

We cannot solve every problem, but if you need help please contact us and we will try.