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Council pledges further support for business affected by firebreak

City businesses are set to get millions of pounds more of support to help tide them through the Welsh Government Covid-19 firebreak announced on Monday.

Swansea at Night

First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that hospitality, gym and leisure businesses in Wales will have to close for more than two weeks, starting at 6pm on Friday.

The move is in response to the rapidly increasing spread of Covid-19, to save lives and to protect the NHS as it goes into the winter period.

Swansea Council has handed out around £100m to local businesses over the last six months to help them protect jobs and livelihoods.

Now it has pledged to do all it can to ensure financial support reaches businesses quickly and has worked with Welsh Government to make the process as simple as possible.

Welsh Government Economy Minister Ken Skates said yesterday (Tues) that it was planned that funds would open for applications next week and it was working with local government to push through a new wave of the Economic Resilience Fund worth £300m across Wales.

In addition to that there will be grants schemes on offer through the council to help those businesses most in need.

Businesses will also be able to access the UK Government's Job Support Scheme which will become available when its furlough scheme ends later this month.

Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said that measures announced by the First Minister are still being finalised but include grant payments of £1,000 for businesses that are liable to pay rates for premises with a rateable value of £12,000 or less and are eligible for Small Business Rates Relief.

As well as this, the detail we have so far says there would be:

  • A further £1,000 grant for businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief that have been subject to local lockdown restrictions for 21 days or more up to 23rd October.
  • An additional £2,000 top-up grant for businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief that have been forced to close as a result of the firebreak lockdown.
  • Payments of up to £5,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses that are required to close and which occupy a property with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £50,000.

Cllr Stewart said: "We urge people to be patient because the Welsh Government is still finalising a range of measures to support businesses. The First Minister said he hoped the schemes would be open for businesses to make applications by next week with payments made within 30 days.

"We will be doing our very best to make payments before that deadline and will use the information we already hold from the last round of business rates grants to make the process as fast and simple as possible for Swansea businesses."

The latest support for business comes after businesses rates for 2,000 of the most-affected city businesses were scrapped for the current financial year, benefiting them to the tune of £35m in total.

Over the last six months more than £50m in grants has been shared among 4,000 businesses to help keep them going and retail shops, hairdressers, gyms, restaurants, cafes and more received cash pay-outs of up to £25,000.

Cllr Stewart said: "Due to the fire-break new funding streams will be made available to local businesses from the Welsh Government via local councils. We're putting pressure on the Welsh Government to finalise the details so we can get on and give the money to hard-pressed businesses so they can support jobs and communities.

"In these difficult times it is vital that we support businesses with the funding they need. Our city's prosperity depends on the success of our business communities and that's why we've pulled out all the stops to support them through the storm of the initial lockdown. We'll be there for business this time too.

"We've worked with Welsh and UK Governments to provide thousands of businesses in Swansea with support amounting to about £100m.

"This has helped to make sure many businesses have remained viable and were able to survive the coronavirus crisis and this in turn will have protected the livelihoods of many thousands of people by keeping them in jobs."

Cllr Stewart said: "We can get through this together. The fire-break is designed to control the spread of the virus and to bring it down to more manageable levels in the countdown to Christmas and as the NHS goes into its critical winter period.

"Once again we need the support of business and once again we will be supporting them, their employees and their families to help stop the spread and save lives."

For more information about business support from the Welsh Government go here: https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/

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