A new Covid Business Recovery Fund of up to £50 million will launch next Monday (12 April) after it was agreed by the City of London Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee.
The fund is designed to support SME businesses which contribute to the Square Mile’s vibrancy at street level and directly provide services to returning City workers, visitors and residents. It aims to support those businesses that can evidence, through the grant application process, a likelihood that with support they have a reasonable chance to survive beyond the short-term.
Applicants will need to demonstrate that they provide an in-person service to the general public in either the retail, hospitality, medical or leisure sectors. Other requirements will include that the business: has had its trading premises in the City of London since at least 20 March 2020 with businesses that have signed leases prior to this date being eligible; has taken steps to reduce its costs as far as practical and has taken up all available grants/loans; has actively engaged with its landlord and agreed a rent-free period or a reduction in rent; and pays the Living Wage.
Grants will be based on individual requirements after a financial evaluation but will not exceed £100,000 per business. Applications will be accepted between 12 April and 11 June 2021. Funds will be awarded on a first come, first served basis. If the level of grants awarded exceeds the allocated funding, then the scheme will be closed with immediate effect.
An online portal has been set up to take applications and will go live from 12 April. Businesses can find further information on the fund and apply from Monday here. The City Business Library will provide support to any applicants unsure how to use the portal.
Policy Chair at the City of London Corporation, Catherine McGuinness, said:
“Many City businesses are preparing to reopen their doors next week and start welcoming back customers. This will be a welcome return to a semblance of normality but inevitably some SMEs that have struggled during the pandemic will need support to get back on their feet.
“We want to ensure that the Square Mile is a vibrant and thriving hub again as quickly as possible. The Covid Business Recovery Fund will play a vital role in supporting the Square Mile’s economic recovery and help us to build back better.”
Small businesses that directly interact with the public (e.g. food, retail, hospitality and close-contact services) will be required to register with the Covid Compliant Accreditation Scheme (CCAS) if they have not done so already. The CCAS is aimed at supporting businesses in their reopening by sharing best practice and reassuring customers that they have systems in place to minimise risks associated with coronavirus and that their premises are safe to visit.