Councillor Russell Holland, Swindon Borough Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member responsible for Finance, outlines what the Council is doing for local businesses during the current Coronavirus crisis.
The Coronavirus pandemic has presented us all with significant and unprecedented challenges. The immediate priority is to do everything possible to protect life. What is clear is that we are going to get through this and, as such, we also need to consider what can be done to help the economy recover in the long term.
The #HereForSwindon campaign outlined 11 measures ranging from providing council tax relief and emergency household supplies for residents facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic through to relaxing parking restrictions.
In addition, we welcome the Government’s plan to provide grants and business rate relief in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors and we are ready to administer this scheme in Swindon. Businesses in these sectors will receive a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property, depending on their rateable value. These firms will not have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 tax year.
There is also a small business grant available for businesses that already pay little or no business rates. This is a one-off grant payment of £10,000 to help those eligible meet their ongoing costs.
Those eligible should by now have received a letter from us providing details of how to access the funding. For those businesses who may not have received a letter, we have developed some supporting communications to ensure nobody misses out on the help to which they are entitled. Business owners can also visit the #HereForSwindon webpage.
In addition, businesses who are unable to pay their rent will not be evicted and some not-for-profit and commercial operators will be able to take a three-month rent holiday following new guidance from the Government.
The Coronavirus crisis is affecting all our lives and we will face tremendous challenges in the weeks and months ahead. We therefore wish to reassure those who live and work in Swindon that we are here to help. For businesses that have been hit hard by the events of the last few weeks or residents who have no support networks around them, help is at hand.