Extra help for businesses during COVID-19 outbreak

West Suffolk Council is working hard to provide local support for businesses during the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak.

The council has brought forward a range of support measures for local businesses to help them through the challenging times including the delaying of increased car parking charges.

The government announced on March 11 measures to help businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or below which are being introduced in the next weeks. In West Suffolk this will see, once implemented, an additional £3.3 million in business relief for 489 properties and an extra £155,000 in rate relief for some 63 pubs.

The Chancellor also announced on March 17 an extra package of measures in addition to the March 11 decision to support businesses affected by Covid-19. The council is waiting guidance but will be implementing it all as soon as practically possible.

West Suffolk Council has also set up a web page to help businesses with advice and the council’s Economic Development Team are ready to take calls to help businesses.

Contact them at www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/c19business

The council is, and will be, contacting businesses to ask what their main issues are and how the authority can help further. We will also use the information businesses give to work with partners to help lobby government on their behalf.

The council has also had offers from businesses to help with initiatives to support communities. It would like to thank everyone who has given offers of help which are being directed to the Economic Development team email economic.development@westsuffolk.gov.uk

It is supporting the government announcements set out below and this includes grants and loans for businesses. As it gets guidance from the government along with its partners Anglia Revenue Partnership will implement the measures and publicise them.

In the meantime, the council and ARP will take a common-sense view as it understands what businesses are affected. Any rebilling will be carried out as soon as possible to help companies.

The council has kept its markets open so far to help the local communities and businesses. It has also supported innovated actions such as in Clare where traders, with the council, set up a delivery service for those who could not get out.

The council has also worked with traders to relax some planning enforcement conditions, under national guidance, to help deliveries to be made.

Government announcement on March 17 support for all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector regardless of rateable value include:

Statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs;

A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England;

Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief;

Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 – £51,000;

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance; and

The HMRC Time To Pay Scheme.

The introduction of planned increases in parking charges in West Suffolk has been delayed for three months as part of the council’s work to help and recognise the priorities of local communities and businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak which is causing them exceptional hardships.

Government and health advice and instructions is that people should avoid social contact but residents and businesses still need to use car parks to get to shop or work.

The proposed introduction of Free From Three in Newmarket on a Monday will go ahead as soon as practically possible.

Subject to national advice and capacity in these challenging times the resurfacing of the Newmarket car parks will carry-on.

The decision to keep free parking in Brandon but with a ticket machine for George Street to help make sure there are spaces for local business but also enough time for shoppers will also be implemented.

John Griffiths, Lleader of West Suffolk Council, said: “This is an extraordinary time and we are doing everything we can to support and protect the health of our communities and businesses who are facing unprecedented challenges and pressure.

“We already, of course, work closely with our businesses and are directly helping hundreds of them, saving millions of pounds, through rate relief.

“Additional measures, which we are putting in place, are intended to help our traders and communities further and make sure our local firms are in the best possible position to both face immediate challenges and their future recovery.

“Many of our businesses have already shown impressive innovation and flexibility and I would urge residents, where possible and while observing health guidance, to support our local traders.

“We are doing our bit in West Suffolk including a dedicated team and web page to give advice; keeping markets open; helping deliveries; implementing rate relief; delaying planned car parking changes and implementing periods of free parking.

“There is more to come, including further clear guidance on delivering actions set out by the Government which we are keeping under constant review, and, as new measures come forward we will implement them as soon as possible.”

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