New initiatives to help NW businesses build back post-lockdown

Cllr Carl Ollerhead

Help has been unveiled for businesses in both Manchester and Liverpool as the region bids to emerge from the impact of the coronavirus.

In Manchester, the Government has made an additional £5.4m discretionary grant funding available to small businesses that will help organisations that were ineligible for the initial grant schemes.

Meanwhile, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has unveiled a package of support for business owners.

The limited fund aimed at Manchester companies will provide discretionary support for businesses such as those in shared work spaces, market traders, and businesses working from domestic addresses – such as bed and breakfasts who pay Council Tax rather than business rates – and can demonstrate a significant drop in income due to COVID-19.

The scheme could also support charities that claim charitable business rate relief, but would otherwise be ineligible for previous grant funding.

In Manchester, this could potentially include up to 30,000 businesses that are registered but have currently not received any government support.

Unfortunately, as this is a fixed and limited scheme, the fund will not allow grant support to be provided to every business in the city that was not eligible for the previous business rate support schemes.

Therefore, the council will need to consider applications from eligible businesses in a phased way:

  • Start up and micro businesses with fixed property related costs of more than £1,500 per year
  • Digital, life sciences and creative sectors with fixed property related costs of more than £1,500 per year
  • Business within the Enterprise Zones – Oxford Road Corridor and the Airport Enterprise Zone – with fixed property related costs of more than £1,500 per year
  • Manchester-based charities and co-operatives with fixed property-related costs of more than £1,500 a year.

Applications from the following eligible businesses will then be considered:

  • Independent permanent food and market halls that are known to make a positive contribution to employment and the economy of the city with fixed property-related costs of more than £1,500 per year
  • Independent retailers
  • Other businesses.

Normally, grant payment will be provided up to a maximum of £5,000 per applicant to ensure the fund can support as many businesses as possible.

Businesses that require this support will be asked to apply within a two-week period until June 10, 2020.

Businesses that have applied for other government funding but were found to be ineligible will be required to apply again.

The fund is not first-come, first-served. All applications will be assessed for their eligibility using the criteria above. Find out more at

Cllr Carl Ollerhead, Manchester City Council’s executive member for finance and human resources, said: “We are committed to supporting businesses as much as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak and we are continuing to work through the remainder of applications for grant funding as quickly as possible.

“Of course, we welcome the additional discretionary grants that will help us support businesses that were not eligible for support in the initial business grant schemes.

“However, Manchester has a large number of businesses that fit into this category – potentially up to 30,000 – and it will be hugely challenging to provide financial assistance to every one of them with the level of grant funding that has been awarded to the city.

“We believe this fund could help us support around 1,000 businesses, so this leaves us with some very difficult decisions to make about how we help as many as possible with the limited resource we have.”

He added: “In the meantime, if you have made an application for grant support and you have not received it yet, please check that you have provided all the information required. If you know that information is missing in our records or you have received a letter asking for more information – such as a lease or bank details – please get in touch as soon as possible so we can update your account and get a payment out to you as quickly as possible.”

In Liverpool, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has launched the latest support programme designed to help Liverpool City Region business leaders navigate the unprecedented shock to the local economy of COVID-19.

Sustain is a new six-week online programme that will provide business leaders with the practical strategies and tools they need to boost their resilience in challenging times. With the first intake of business leaders starting in June, Sustain will be rolled out to 240 city region businesses in six waves.

The programme is aimed specifically at businesses in the advanced manufacturing, clean growth, health and life sciences, professional and business services, and supply chain and logistics sectors.

Steve Rotheram, said: “We know from our surveys that 95% of businesses are undergoing huge challenges right now as a result of unprecedented circumstances.

Steve Rotheram

“It is clear that the scale of the immediate and long-term financial support required for our economy, which will run to the hundreds of millions, cannot be met from local resources alone.

“As a combined authority, we are doing everything in our power to support the local business community, and to limit the risk to local jobs and livelihoods.

“With cash flow the greatest challenge facing our business we have been working intensively with our local partners to help business get access to the finance they need from government schemes. And we’ve been vigorously lobbying central government where those needs have not been met to secure changes to these schemes.

“We are now working on the development of a comprehensive recovery plan for the city region that will help our businesses emerge from this crisis, and I have established an Economic Recovery Panel, to help us build back better.

“Sustain is the latest of our support programmes for business and one geared towards helping businesses adapt to the seismic economic changes they and we are facing.

“Delivered by one of the region’s most innovative business development organisations, Sustain will help businesses develop strategies to sustain and adapt their operations during this difficult time and emerge from it stronger and better prepared.

“By connecting local business leaders with each other, and with experts who can provide a listening ear as well as practical guidance, our aim is to help our business build a more resilient local business community that can weather not only this storm, but those they may be faced with at any point in the future too.”

Sustain, which launched today (May 27), offers business leaders a space to strengthen their pipeline, rebuild their business plan and create clarity across the business.

Its aim is to support and connect business leaders, many of whom will be currently facing similar challenges as the local economy responds to the global pandemic. Business leaders can join the community by signing up here.

The course will be made up of three modules over six weeks. Each module includes an interactive online workshop and collaborative breakout sessions, followed by access to digital resources and workbooks to support leaders to keep their team on track.

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