Thursday 8 April 2021 4:43 pm

More than 500 City of London SMEs to benefit from new £50m Covid recovery fund

At least 500 small-to-medium sized businesses in the City of London are set to benefit from Covid recovery grants thanks to a new £50m fund by the Square Mile’s local authority.

The City of London Corporation will launch the fund on Monday, which will see SMEs from the hospitality, retail, medical and leisure sectors able to apply for grants of up to £100,000 per business.

Read more: Strong West End recovery vital for City of London’s future, says Khan

Eligibility conditions for the grants include a requirement that businesses offer an in-person service, have been trading since 20 March 2020 and pay the London living wage.

It comes as non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality will be allowed to reopen in England on Monday.

City of London Corporation policy chair Catherine McGuinness said the City of London’s SMEs will need support as they begin to trade again.

“We want to ensure that the Square Mile is a vibrant and thriving hub again as quickly as possible,” she said.

Retail and hospitality shops in the City have been particularly hard hit during the past 12 months, with lockdowns and low footfall putting many businesses in jeopardy.

There have also been concerns that working from home is here to stay for financial and legal services firms in the Square Mile, which would lead to a permanent decline in footfall.

However, McGuinness told the BBC last week that she believed the bulk of office workers would return to the City of London.

“What people are telling us is that they are expecting their central office base to remain at the core of their business with people coming in three or four days, working different hours, so we are expecting the bulk of the return,” she said.

Read more: London reports zero Covid deaths as cases slump to September levels

Boris Johnson also said on Tuesday that he believed central London would eventually come back to life as restrictions are eased in the coming months.

“I happen to think the London economy is capable of bouncing back very strongly and the way to do that is to get people back into the centre, get people moving again, get the agglomeration effects of a gigantic metropolis like London working again,” he said.

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