A Special meeting of Brighton and Hove’s Policy and Resources Committee (P&R) held today (Thursday February 4) represents an important move to help the city’s business struggling due to the ongoing effects of Coronavirus, including the Taxi trade, and local nurseries, who have been hit particularly hard by the Covid pandemic.
Green Councillors say it is vital that the new, top-up ‘Additional Restrictions Grant’ provided by government goes towards supporting businesses that are experiencing a continued loss in trade. The extra Additional Restrictions Grant, like other government grants, has strict eligibility criteria that the council cannot change. However within the restrictions, Green Councillors have pushed to ensure support goes further for those who are eligible, providing top-up payments and a focus on sectors hard hit by the health crisis.
While the council has moved to issue business grants alongside government criteria, with particular consideration given to arts, culture, hospitality and events sectors, Greens continue to push to ensure support is provided to the many people in the city excluded from any business grants due to the government criteria for funding support.
Following a set of proposals from Greens agreed at a meeting of full council, work to explore how the council can signpost those excluded to more help and support will continue, alongside consistent lobbying of government.
Representatives of all political parties on the council agreed to approve the uses of new additional restrictions grant at the meeting today.
Chair of Policy and Resources Committee, Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty commented:
“Businesses in our city continue to struggle as a result of this pandemic. For many of those still fighting to stay open and stay afloat, the ongoing difficulties of lockdown coupled with a drop in trade represent immense challenges.
“Unbelievably, the government has still refused to develop a grant funding system to reach the hundreds of people – mostly self-employed – that have found themselves excluded from all business grant support. What’s more, the funding local councils have been asked to distribute is finite, and simply may not reach everyone. We continue to raise these concerns with government and just last week have pushed again for extra support to the excluded and to campaigners helping to raise this issue
“While the government continues to constrain the eligibility criteria for business support, we are determined to be as flexible as we can be locally, to support struggling trades. This latest decision on the new ‘additional restrictions grant,’ follows work already done to offer support to the arts, culture and hospitality sector, ‘wet’ pubs and market traders who fall outside of the business rates system, and we are glad all parties have agreed it.”
Green Party Councillors Lizzie Deane and Steve Davis, Chair and Deputy Chair of Licensing Committee, said:
“The city’s taxi drivers have found their work and income virtually dried up as a result of businesses being shut and people staying at home because of Covid. Many of these drivers fall between the gaps when it comes to the government grants available to small businesses and the self-employed.
“Cabbies were among those most at risk in the early stages of the disease, and again during the pause in lockdown, and it is tragic that three have lost their lives to Covid and another has taken his own life due to stress and financial worries. We would like to offer our deepest sympathy to those who have lost family members and loved ones whilst working during this pandemic.
“The taxi trade forms an invaluable role in the city’s economy and public transport network , taking children to and from school, supporting the night time economy, and enabling people to live without a car. And they are also integral to the city’s health and well-being, offering an alternative to car ownership, so it is important to us that they are supported as much as possible during this difficult time.”
Councillor Hannah Clare, Chair of Children, Young People and Skills Committee, added:
“Many nurseries in our city are struggling to bear the impact of the pandemic. We’ve been vocal in our support for the sector, particularly given the recent, shocking decision from government on nursery funding, that has left those nurseries that limited attendance on safety grounds suddenly ineligible for full grant payments.
“It’s vital that nurseries can continue beyond the pandemic. We are using whatever flexibility possible in grants to ensure early years support is maintained in our city, and to help prevent nurseries becoming unviable.
“In addition to this, we continue to lobby the government on the need for vaccinations and wider support for the sector, so they can stay afloat during this health crisis.”