Leeds City Council has assured businesses that it stands ready, willing and able to help them through the financial challenges posed by the latest stage of the country’s efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic.
The council has already distributed around £170m to thousands of businesses across the city since the start of the crisis last year.
Now, following the introduction of a new national lockdown, a further £30.2m is landing in applicants’ bank accounts from today onwards.
Grants worth up to £1,500 per fortnight are on offer to ratepayers whose businesses were forced to close when lockdown kicked in on January 5. An additional one-off payment for eligible ratepayers in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors and covering the period from January 5 to February 16 is worth between £4,000 and £9,000, depending on the rateable value of their premises.
To simplify matters, the first three fortnightly instalments – covering the initial six weeks of the current lockdown – are being given out as a lump sum with the one-off payment. Together, these account for nearly all of the £30.2m being distributed this week, with a total of 4,221 grants having been approved.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“From the start of the pandemic, the council has made it clear that it will do everything in its power to help local businesses cope with the financial effects of the restrictions that have been put in place to save lives and protect the NHS.
“The last 10 months have been incredibly hard for our businesses and that’s why it is so important that these much-needed funds are going out this week.
“There may now be light at the end of the tunnel thanks to the continuing vaccine rollout programme, but the struggle is far from over. Businesses in Leeds can rest assured that we will continue to make every effort to get them through the crisis.”
Grants are also still available to help ratepayers who had to close their businesses during the national lockdown that ran from November 5 to December 2 or as a result of the Tier 3 restrictions that were in place in Leeds from December 2 to January 4.
Businesses that have previously applied for a grant to cover November’s lockdown period do not need to submit a request for one of the January payments, the council is using initial applications to check eligibility.
Businesses that were forced to close in November but did not apply for a grant at that time are asked to make themselves known to the council as soon as possible. New businesses that began operating after the start of the November lockdown will be able to apply for support from January 25.
Other grant schemes currently in operation include one focused on ratepayers in the hospitality and visitor accommodation sector who suffered financially as a result of the Tier 2 restrictions that were in force in Leeds between September 25 and November 5.
A further scheme is offering a £1,000 Christmas payment to so-called ‘wet led’ pubs which derive 50% or more of their turnover from drink sales, with the deadline for applications to this fund being January 31.
The council is also planning to reopen a discretionary grant scheme that is in part designed to help businesses that are struggling to access other funds. Possible recipients include businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure supply chain, such as events organisers, outside caterers and coach companies. The reopening of the fund will also form part of the council’s ongoing efforts to support businesses that do not have to pay business rates, with more than £1m being distributed to them since the start of the November lockdown.
For further information about the various funds and links to the online application process, visit https://www.leeds.gov.uk/coronavirus/grants-for-businesses.