Grants for businesses affected by coronavirus

Town halls are offering grants to businesses and community projects stricken by lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic with a string of initiatives.

Southwark, Lambeth, Lewisham, Wandsworth, Greenwich and Croydon councils are all offering extra grants to small firms through the government’s Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund.

Lambeth’s Local Economy Support Package gives rent relief to more than 300 of its commercial tenants, is making over £50m of grant payments, and freezing commercial waste payments for businesses forced to shut.

Lewisham firms and charities can tap into a new £2 million fund to protect jobs and livelihoods.

The Lewisham Small Business Support Fund will from early July help organisations which have experienced a big fall in income during the pandemic, and which have fallen through the cracks of other government support measures.

But only £2m has been allocated by government for Lewisham. Cllr Joe Dromey, Cabinet member for employment, said: “We are committed to helping local small businesses and residents who have been hit hard by this crisis. We hope the funding will help protect jobs.”

The Gentlemen Baristas, which has branches in Borough, Southwark, London Bridge, Flat Iron Square and Vinegar Yard, has managed to maintain its income throughout.

Ben Newton, head of project delivery, said: “We are beginning our first wave of re-openings.

“We had an initial hit of wholesale coffee sales dropping due to the hospitality industry shutdown, so we worked to increase our home delivery sales.

“The week before lockdown we experimented with home delivery from our SE1 locations.

“It has increased over the lockdown period – everybody still needs decent coffee.

“We have also just begun to introduce click and collect and home delivery from our sites, which has begun to pick up now that lockdown is easing.

“We are seeing a decent level of takeaway and walk-in trade.

“Using payment scheme iZettle ensures we have a reliable payment card system

“The support during lockdown has been phenomenal. Our customers, our family and friends have all rallied round, buying gift cards, coffee and courses to help support us and keep us afloat.

“Words of gratitude and love have been sent to us almost daily, which keeps us all going on a daily basis.”

Shoppers flocked to Croydon town centre on Monday as high street stores opened their doors for the first time in nearly three months.

People queuing outside shops were keeping their distance and most had members of staff outside to tell customers when they could go in.

A city-wide campaign to build consumer confidence and encourage a responsible recovery in consumer spending was launched on Wednesday, led by an alliance of more than 100 big businesses, supported by the Mayor of London, London Councils and Transport for London.

The campaign, Because I’m a Londoner, aims to join Londoners as a united community, committed to helping renew the city.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m delighted to support the ‘Because I’m a Londoner’ campaign, which showcases the capital’s fantastic local businesses and encourages Londoners to safely and responsibly rediscover their local high streets and town centres.”

Lambeth support is here.

To contact Southwark council support available, email SouthwarkBusinessDesk@southwark.gov.uk

Lewisham support is here. Wandsworth is here.

Pictured top: The Gentlemen Baristas, pre-lockdown


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