These are extraordinary times for all of us. The Covid 19 crisis is having real and immediate effects on all of our businesses. We want to update you what we are doing in GM to support your business as best we can:
- We know that cashflow is the most important issue for you as a business. There is a range of grant and loan financial support available to companies – including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Self-employment Income Support Scheme and the ability to defer VAT payments. Within GM we have set up comprehensive support and advice available to all businesses via the Growth Hub. We would encourage you to access the support available via these webpages (https://www.businessgrowthhub.com/coronavirus; https://businessfinance.growthco.uk/) and also to talk to your bank and business advisor. Full details of all of the Government’s support available to companies is available here https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support/
- As part of this package of support to businesses you will be aware that Government has announced grant support for some small businesses and for the retail, hospitality and leisure industries. The Small Business Grants Fund will pay £10,000, delivered by Local Authorities, to businesses who are eligible for the Small Business Rates Relief Scheme (those with a rateable value of £15,000 or less). We know that for many businesses this cash grant support cannot come quickly enough, particularly with payroll bills due imminently for many. GM Local Authorities are therefore working to make sure that these payments to companies start to be made in the next few days, and we would encourage you to check further details on your relevant Local Authority website.
- We are also lobbying Government hard on a range of issues where we think further action is still needed. Government has put together a significant package but we are concerned about the following issues on your behalf:
- The availability of Government backed loan finance via banks and other lenders. We have heard stories of some banks asking for personal guarantees for Government backed loans and are concerned that some of the eligibility criteria might be restricting access to finance for some companies who need it most. We are raising this with the banks and Government as a matter of urgency.
- The package of support for the Self-Employed announced last night was welcome although we still have concerns about support for those who have been trading less than 12 months.
- Flexibility in the Job Retention Scheme to support short-time working, rather than just supporting those workers who are no longer required at all at this point in time.
- Further clarity on what is regarded as an ‘essential Business’ and therefore who should stay open and who should close – there has been considerable confusion on this, and we all need clarity at this time.
- Support to individuals who are now looking for work to be ‘matched’ with those companies who have an increased need for staff at this point in time. GM has introduced a website to help with this (www.employgm.org) but we are also working with Government to see what more can be done
Supporting business through this crisis as vital – alongside the massive health and humanitarian response that is being co-ordinated in GM. We are working as hard as possible to make sure you can access the cash resources and support you need to see you through the crisis.
Finally we hope that you and your loved ones remain safe and well at this time, and would urge you to follow the latest Government guidance about staying at home and social distancing. That guidance can be found here (https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus).
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester
Sir Richard Leese, Deputy Mayor for Business & Economy
Lou Cordwell, co-chair, Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership
Mo Isap, co-chair, Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership