Sunderland businesses in the sectors that have been hardest-hit by the latest local restrictions and national lockdown can access a new round of financial support to help them through the COVID-19 crisis.
A package of financial assistance has been made available through Government to support a range of companies that are likely to have felt the greatest impact of restrictions on trade, including hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses and non-essential retail and personal services.
Now open for applications, the new support packages – which are being administered by Sunderland City Council – will see payments directed towards businesses that experienced a significant reduction of trade during the local restrictions that ran between September 18 and November 4 and the latest national lockdown that began on November 5 and will run until December 2.
The packages of support will be targeted towards businesses trading direct with the public and those in the supply chain to the hospitality, leisure and hotel, bed and breakfast sectors.
The first package aims to help companies that were open during the local restrictions, but operating under reduced hours or with significant limitations to their trading.
The support will also be extended to the direct supply chain of these businesses.
The amount of money qualifying businesses will receive will be calculated based on the rateable value of the business property they occupy.
However, companies that do not have a business rates assessment but meet the other criteria set out online can still apply.
A second package of help will see the same businesses supported for trade lost during the national lockdown, as well as help for non-essential retail, hairdressers and beauty businesses.
A separate package of support will also be available for nightclubs and other evening entertainment businesses that have been forced to close since the first lockdown.
Peter McIntyre, executive director for city development at Sunderland City Council, said that the funding would be a lifeline for many businesses that have been unable to trade freely since restrictions were reintroduced following a rise in cases of COVID-19 in the North East.
He said: “The local measures and national lockdown have been punishing for many businesses, but we know that there are some in particular that have faced more significant restrictions to trading, and it is those we are channelling support towards.
“We have simplified the application process as much as possible, and we’ll be working through applications as quickly as we can to ensure assistance is provided to those that qualify in the timeliest way.”
Businesses that believe they may qualify can apply online and will only need to fill in one form, even if they are seeking support for both the local restrictions and national lockdown periods.
Support for businesses will depend on the rateable value of the business property they occupy, with grants for companies claiming for the local restriction period capped at £2,100 for every 28-day period. For those impacted by the national lockdown, they will be able to claim up to £3,000 for every 28 days they are closed.
Mr McIntyre added: “We would urge businesses that believe they qualify to log on, read the criteria, and make their application for support as soon as possible.”
Businesses must apply for the grant in order to be considered and full details can be found at www.sunderland.gov.uk/Business-Support-Grants.