New figures have underlined the scale of the support being offered by Leeds City Council to businesses struggling to cope with the financial effects of the COVID-19 crisis.
The council has awarded around 5,500 grants worth a combined total of more than £8m to businesses affected by restrictions that were introduced on September 25, the national restrictions that ran from November 5 to December 2 and the current Tier 3 rules in force in Leeds. Individual grants distributed during this period have ranged in size from less than £1,000 to more than £6,500.
Since the start of the pandemic, meanwhile, nearly £170m has been distributed by the council to thousands of businesses across Leeds.
The figures come as the council prepares to embark on the latest phase of its work helping those affected by COVID-19 restrictions.
Two schemes – the first offering grants to businesses forced to shut during the national restrictions that ended on December 2, the second focused on hospitality venues and accommodation providers that have suffered financially as a result of the restrictions introduced on September 25 – will be accepting applications for support until mid-January.
A third scheme, aimed at those who have not had any other financial support from either local or national government, closes at midnight on Friday, December 18. A fourth, set up to help businesses cover fixed non-domestic property costs such as mortgage payments, rent and service charges, closed last week.
The council is due to carry out a review of all its COVID-19 grant schemes in January before deciding how to make further funds available, with arrangements expected to be partly shaped by Leeds’s position in the country’s three-tier restrictions system at that time.
Plans are also being put in place for so-called ‘wet pubs’ – which predominantly serve alcohol rather than provide food and as a result have been hit particularly hard by coronavirus rules – to receive a £1,000 Christmas support payment. It is hoped the application process for this payment will go live from January.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “The pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for businesses in Leeds and we have been determined to help every step of the way.
“The amount of money awarded to date is a reminder of both the impact of COVID-19 and the huge efforts that are being made to provide much-needed assistance to those affected by ongoing restrictions.
“I would urge anyone who thinks they might be eligible for support to make themselves known to us as soon as possible.”
For further information about the council’s various grant schemes and links to the online application process, visit www.leeds.gov.uk/coronavirus/business.