Andy McKenna, Sheffield City Region Growth Hub Access to Finance Advisor, gives an update on what financial support is available to help businesses through these challenging times.
“It has been an excruciatingly difficult nine months of trading for many businesses and many will be pleased to see the back of 2020 and welcome in what we all hope will be a more optimistic new year. Although most sectors have re-opened following the national lockdown, this still leaves many within hospitality and leisure facing massive uncertainties. Despite the positive news about the coronavirus vaccines being rolled out, there are many businesses that worry that they just won’t survive long enough to see the benefits.
Many business owners are therefore still looking for help to access Government support, in terms of grants and loans that may be available to them.
Financial support schemes
In my last blog, I reported on the financial support schemes which the government had made available to businesses and self-employed workers across the Sheffield City Region.
- The Government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) which enables smaller businesses to access finance more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak.
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) which provides financial support to smaller businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).
- The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) provides financial support to larger businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).
- The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme – available to support self employed people whose income has been impacted by COVID-19
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, extended until 31/3/2021
The Government-backed loans and Future Fund have been well received and in Yorkshire and Humber alone, over 90,000 businesses have accessed one of these schemes, resulting in over £3.3bn funding being made available.
The advantage of a BBL or CBIL scheme is that the first year’s interest cost is paid by the government – and it is likely that this won’t be a feature of any future schemes. These schemes and the Large Business Interruption Scheme and Future Fund have all been extended until the end of January, so any businesses interested should apply now.
It is certainly worth calling our Growth Hub team if you are considering investing in your business for the future, to discover more about schemes that could support you.
For businesses that are struggling to access funding from their bank then the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) has funding available and can deliver CBILs locally. We have Mercia Asset Management (www.mercia.co.uk) and Finance For Enterprise (https://finance-for-enterprise.co.uk/) delivering under the NPIF scheme. If you are not sure and want support with this then contact the Growth Hub and speak to an Access to Finance Advisor.
It is important that businesses don’t forget the national schemes that are still open to them, these include:
- National Grant for local restrictions support – claimed locally via your Local Authority
- Relief grants for visitor economy
- Localised business rate reductions
- Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF)
Challenges facing tourism, hospitality & culture
Along with the retail, hospitality and tourism sectors, the cultural and creative sectors are amongst the worst affected by the current crisis. The stop-start nature of their businesses caused by Tier 3 impacts and the recent national lockdown means they have been closed for much of what is their strongest trading period. As the run up to Christmas is what sees them through the quieter months, this is causing many challenges across these sectors. It also applies to cafes, pubs and restaurants that are operating a takeaway service, as this could mean their business is still severely impacted.
What businesses really need now is some level of certainty over the coming months so they can plan a clear path forward. The Re-Start to Growth initiative is working well in South Yorkshire – which is one way that local businesses that are in danger of closing as a result of Covid, can get a helping hand to re-start and rejuvenate their businesses utilising dedicated expertise through the Growth Hub.
In addition to the national schemes, there are also a number of local grants available through individual local authorities.
Additional Restrictions Grants (ARG) scheme – Supply Chain Support Scheme grant – this is mainly aimed at businesses that trade with hospitality, leisure and entertainment sectors. Grants are available to any business which has experienced a significant loss of trade due to local restrictions (provided they were open and trading on 13th October 2020). Businesses must be able to demonstrate that they supply the hospitality, accommodation, leisure or entertainment sectors on a business to business basis.
Get in touch with the Growth Hub to discuss your options.
Licensed taxi drivers’ support grant scheme – to support taxi drivers within South Yorkshire who have suffered loss of income due to local and national restrictions which has impacted on their trade – giving them a one-off payment of £500.
What has been evident during the Covid crisis is the speed of change and the constantly changing nature of the support that is out there – this is why it is important to keep checking the Growth Hub website for the latest updates.
Our advice to business leaders is, you are not alone as there is help out there. Please don’t struggle along feeling unsupported and unsure of which way to turn. – get in touch.”
For more information about how the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub can guide you through the various levels of support available, contact our team on 03330 00 00 39 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org