Every year, I run a Local Business Awards. Every year, thousands of people across Audenshaw, Denton, Dukinfield and Reddish nominate their favourite local small business. Hundreds of hairdressers, cafes, convenience stores, pubs, small manufacturers, takeaways, dog groomers and restaurants get nominated. This just shows how important our small businesses are to us – not just as places to spend money, but as places that bring communities together.
Coronavirus poses a serious health challenge and our first priority as a nation should be to look out for the health of our citizens. However, it is also undeniable that the virus poses a serious economic challenge which will have a huge impact on the small businesses we all care so much about.
Understandably, people may be feeling unable to support their favourite local small businesses while social distancing. However, there are still some responsible ways people can lend their support from afar.
For example, many restaurants are providing takeaway. If anyone follows me on social media, they will know that I took full advantage of this last week! We are also fortunate that a lot of our local retailers have an online presence we can take advantage of.
If you own a small business, there is Government help available.
This includes the Business Interruption Loan Scheme: a retail bank loan of up to £5 million for small to medium sized enterprises, on which the Government will pay the interest for the first twelve months.
A Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is also being made available: a grant from HMRC covering 80% of wages up to £2,500 per month for an initial period of three months for payroll employees who are not working. Payments will be backdated to 1st March.
There are cash grants: £25,000 for small businesses in the hospitality, leisure and retail industries and £10,000 for all businesses who receive Small Business Rates Relief and Rural Rates Relief.
Statutory Sick Pay costs for businesses with fewer than 250 employees will be met by the Government in full for up to 14 days per employee.
There will also be a 100% Business Rates holiday for all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure industries for one year in 2020-21. The next quarter of VAT will be deferred until the end of June. Call 0800 015 9559 for more tax information.
I wish everyone well during these unprecedented times. If you are able, please continue to support our local small businesses wherever possible.
Take care and please continue to follow the Government’s advice to keep ourselves, our families and our nation safe.