Agenda item

Questions

The Leader of the Council, the Deputy Leader of the Council or the Chair of any Committee or Sub-Committee to take any questions that may be submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 9.

Minutes:

Question From:

Councillor Chris Mitchell

Question To:

Councillor Marc Bayliss – Leader of the Council

Question:

As a local businessman, I, like many other businesses have felt the significant of COVID 19 on my business. The government have made great efforts to provide support to business in the form of CBILS and Bounce Back Loans. Can you provide me and the local business community, with reassurance that, we as a City Council are, and will do as much as possible to support local businesses in sustaining their operations and also encourage and support new local businesses start-ups to the best of our ability.


 

Answer:

Can I thank Councillor Mitchell for his question. We are indeed as a City Council doing a huge amount to try and support the business community in Worcester in what must be the most troubling times that the whole business community has faced for many, many decades.

 

This year the Council is providing just under £22m in busines rates relief to help local businesses deal with the effects of lockdown. To date, we have provided grants for over 1,400 small businesses and those in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors, totalling £919.2 m. We will continue to provide these grants, actively engaging with businesses who we expect to apply but have not yet done so.

 

Further discretionary funding of just under £900,000 has been provided, for which we have received 210 applications. To date, we have paid grants to 46 of those applications, to small and micro businesses, to small and sole traders, totalling £230,000.

Information about the above grants, the low interest business interruption loan scheme, and the eat out to help out scheme and many other forms of support are provided on our website, and are publicised through local bulletins by the Economic Development Team, direct contact with busines owners and work with partners such as the BID and the Chamber of Commerce. In addition, we continue to make grants available of £1,000 each to help business start-ups and £3,000 to help businesses grow. There is £50,000 available for these schemes and we currently have 9 applications pending.

 

A recovery plan for the economy is being put in place, including the establishment of a Trading Liaison Group, formed by Regulatory Services, the district councils, County Highways and the Safer Neighbourhoods Team, to operate a one Worcestershire perspective to the issues faced by traders recovering from Covid-19. We are also delivering a range of promotional activity to support the re-opening of our High Streets and a paid for Support Worcester campaign through the local Worcester News.

Supplementary Question:

Thank you very much for your comprehensive response. What I would ask is – what more can we do? Which is probably an unfair question to place on you at this very moment. However, I think it would be beneficial to all Members of the Council if we could receive some form of update or plan of what more we as a Council can to support local businesses, and what our intentions are.

Answer:

I would just reassure my friend that the Council leadership – the bi-partisan leadership of the Council  – is very keen to do everything we can to help Worcester get back on its feet and I intend to ask the Managing Director what else he believes, and the Officer team believe, we can do to support the business community at this difficult time. So, I’m happy to give the reassurance that the leadership of the Council will continue to look at ways in which we can support the business community.