The announcement that government support will be available for small businesses struggling to survive the coronavirus crisis could not come soon enough for many.
Becca Luger, who runs Bedminster-based Crumpet Cakes, says the new discretionary grants for companies that slipped through the gaps in terms of eligibility for funding will hopefully enable her and others in the same boat to ride out the lockdown period.
The additional fund announced on Saturday, May 2 follows a high profile campaign from business owners and chambers of commerce calling on the Government to make emergency support packages for the many firms missing out.
Commenting on the lifeline thrown by ministers, Luger said: “This really is fantastic news, not just for my own business but for many businesses locally and nationwide who were all facing a very uncertain future.
“This new government support will enable businesses to cover their ongoing costs, enable them to ride out the lockdown and hopefully be able to come out the other side still being able to trade and remain in business which had always been our ultimate goal.”
Luger, alongside Business West, Engine Shed and others, was one of the driving forces behind the campaign. A letter sent to the government lobbying for support was signed by more than 400 business owners in the region.
The new grants are aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs, especially those with premises in shared workspaces, market traders or small charity properties, who, because of a loophole, were ineligible for existing support.
The money is to be distributed by councils and it is not yet known how much Bristol is set to receive.
Welcoming the news, Matt Griffith, the director of policy at Business West said it follows multiple conversations with ministers and government officials, who responded to the campaign.
“Over 400 businesses signed our joint letter to the minister, which really helped demonstrate the scale of the local impact,” said Griffith.
“Workspaces are vital for many of Bristol’s smaller businesses, and many have suffered very big impacts from the crisis, so having some form of government support makes a huge difference in their ability to survive.
“It’s nice that the hard work paid off and we have a bit of a good news story for these companies. We’re now working with our local authorities on the details of the scheme and hoping that the money can be paid out as quickly as time allows.”
Luger added her thanks to the Business West team for “throwing their weight behind the campaign”, saying: “I think this campaign has demonstrated just how crucial local business organisations are to small business communities and the levels of support they can offer and what can be achieved when we all work together.”