We know that the crisis we find ourselves in will have wide ranging impacts on our city, not just in relation to health, but for the economy as well. While it’s vital that we support out health and care sector so they can continue to save lives and support those most in need, we also need to think about what kind of world, and what kind of city, we want to find ourselves in when this is all over.
We recognise the importance of small businesses to Bristol and know that many of these have been hit hard. That’s why we’re committed to ensuring businesses are supported through this uncertain time. This support comes in many forms and I’d encourage you to visit our website to see how we can help.
The Chancellor recently announced new business rate relief to many businesses to alleviate some of the effects of the Coronavirus. Cash grants are also available to eligible small businesses.
This critical support will be funded by the government and administered through local authorities. As a council, we have received approximately £88 million in allocated funds from central government to pay small business grants, with an estimated 8,375 businesses eligible in our city alone.
As of Wednesday (15 April), Bristol had distributed £43.5 million of grants to an estimated 3,298 businesses – a phenomenal effort.
This means we’ve distributed more than 49% of our allocated grant funding to Bristol businesses so far, which is the best performance in the West of England, and we’ve had early indications that we’re doing well compared to other core cities too.
We know we need to be agile and adapt quickly to respond to the challenges that face us and continue to deliver for the city.
We have been allocating and awarding grants in age order and the team is working hard to keep on top of this. To manage an unprecedented volume of applications and enquiries, we have increased staffing of the department by more than 400%.
Complex cases may take longer to process if we need to gather more information and there are a small number of businesses that may have been waiting longer than two weeks for their application to be processed. Although the vast majority have received funds quickly, I’d like to thank businesses for their patience.
We’re pleased that more than 5,000 businesses have now applied for this support. However, around 30% of eligible Bristol firms are yet to do so. I’d encourage all those who may be able to benefit from the scheme to check if you’re eligible and make an application here.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to recognise that processing this support is a huge task and to thank the staff who have been working tirelessly to deliver for Bristol.
We will continue to be there for businesses and for the city.
When this is over, we will still be the thriving and dynamic city that attracts so many to live, work and study here. And perhaps we will appreciate our local businesses just a little bit more.
Bristol City Council is carrying out a short survey of the city’s businesses and organisations to gain a more detailed understanding of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Any information you provide will help inform future business support we might develop, either as a council, or with partner organisations. You can access the survey here, and please do circulate among your networks. Thank you to those who have already contributed.