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£561m emergency fund begins to reach West Midlands businesses

By Richard Guttridge | Coronavirus | Published:

Small businesses across the West Midlands have started to receive more than half a billion pounds of financial aid to help them through the coronavirus lockdown.

Mayor Andy Street

A specific Government funding stream of £561m for small businesses has been transferred to the seven metropolitan West Midlands councils and more than £1m has already been distributed, the region’s Economic Impact Group has said.

More than 50,000 small businesses in the West Midlands are eligible for financial support.

Most will be able to get small business rates relief and will receive £10,000 each. The remaining firms are retail, hospitality and leisure firms with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 and will receive £25,000 each.

The seven councils have been handed responsibility for getting the financial aid to firms.

The region’s Economic Impact Group, which brings together key public and private sector organisations including the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to help ease the effects of coronavirus on the regional economy, said it was supporting councils to make the grant payments quickly.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: “

“The challenge now is to get this money, and the other funds announced by Government, out the door and into the hands of these small businesses as quickly as possible, and we are doing everything we can to make that happen.

“It’s crucial that businesses across the region are able to survive this pandemic not just for the livelihoods of families in the short term, but also because they will be vital in getting our economy back on its feet once this is all over.”

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Wolverhampton Council leader Ian Brookfield, who is also the WMCA lead on the economy, said: “Small businesses are the backbone of our regional economy but have been hit hard by the lockdown and many are struggling to survive.

“We must do everything we can to make it as quick and easy as possible for our small businesses to access this money.

“But I’m pleased that confidence has been put in our local authorities to get this financial support out to those who need it. Councils have a unique understanding of the needs of their local communities and I believe are well placed to support their small businesses through this crisis.”

Despite financial support now starting to get through to firms, the Economic Impact Group has expressed concern over a lack of support for some other businesses.

Tim Pile, chair of the region’s Strategic Economic Development Board, said: “While the current measures are extremely welcome, it is also important to recognise that there are still businesses and individuals not being covered by the available support. The impact of Covid-19 is already taking a heavy toll on the economy. Rapid recovery is absolutely critical and we must ensure that as many of our businesses as possible are protected, survive this period and then help rebuild our economy.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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