April 9, 2021 @ 9:39 by Richard Dawson
Newcastle City Council has revealed it will launch a new £900,000 “Springback Fund” to provide much needed aid to local businesses ineligible for help so far during the pandemic.
The money will come from £1.7 million provided by the Government under the Additional Restrictions Grant, designed to help smaller businesses through Covid.
A further £19.2 million of money from Westminster will also be made available to the council through the Restart Grant Scheme, aimed at larger companies, such as those in the leisure, hospitality and personal care sectors.
Businesses eligible for help from the “Springback Fund” will include home-based businesses and mobile operators such as driving instructors and window cleaners, with grants of up to £1500 offered.
Of the remaining funds from the Additional Restrictions Grant, £500,000 has already been committed to supporting city centre businesses as they reopen, as well as taxi drivers and the food and drink sectors.
The council is planning to distribute the other £300,000 to small businesses which have remained open throughout lockdown but have felt the strain from reduced footfall. They include takeaways, newsagents and nurseries.
Councillor Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “I have been contacted by businesses who have missed out on grants and appreciate they have been through a very tough period.
“On their behalf we have lobbied Government for more support”.
He added: “The Springback Fund would be predominantly aimed at smaller businesses. We hope to set up a scheme which will allow us to target businesses we have been unable to support so far”.
Speaking about the Additional Restrictions Grant, Small Business Minister Paul Scully said: “Government grants have been critical in relieving cash flow pressures and enabling businesses to plan ahead, and I am urging councils to deliver these vital funds to where they are needed as soon as possible.
“We have made extraordinary efforts to stand by small business owners. Now we need to press on and continue getting money to them in good time to ensure that our communities are ready to build back better following the pandemic”.
Councillor Forbes said that the council hopes to have the scheme up and running “within weeks”, adding: “our officers are working round the clock to set up a scheme that is good to go”.
Words by Will Hardy