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Phase two gets green light for those impacted in Ipswich by coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 07:30 16 July 2020

Independent businesses in Ipswich affected by coronavirus may be eligible for a second phase of Discretionary Grants. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Independent businesses in Ipswich affected by coronavirus may be eligible for a second phase of Discretionary Grants. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

A second phase is to be launched in Ipswich for two grant schemes to help those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ipswich Borough Council's Labour leader said there may be enough left for a third phase. Picture: JAMES AGERIpswich Borough Council's Labour leader said there may be enough left for a third phase. Picture: JAMES AGER

Ipswich Borough Council’s executive on Tuesday night agreed to widen the criteria for the Hardship Fund and the Discretionary Grants schemes launched by the government to tackle Covid-19.

The Hardship Fund was set up to help those on council tax reduction (CTR) schemes meet their living costs during the pandemic, while the Discretionary Grants programme was introduced as a lifeline for small businesses, independents and market traders.

The council was given £1.25million for the Discretionary Grants while around £650,000 of the £1.5m Hardship Fund cash remains for a phase two.

Labour council leader David Ellesmere said: “We said at the time that if there was any money left over from phase one then we would undertake phase two, and I can confirm that we do believe we will have money left over.”

Ipswich Council opposition leader Ian Fisher, Conservative, praised the speedy handout of the grants. Picture: IPSWICH COUNCILIpswich Council opposition leader Ian Fisher, Conservative, praised the speedy handout of the grants. Picture: IPSWICH COUNCIL

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The Discretionary Grants pot has been given expanded criteria to feature larger pubs and restaurants which were not eligible previously because their rateable value was too high, as well as businesses or individuals who regularly hire space, leisure and hospitality firms and cultural organisations.

Mr Ellesmere said: “We do believe that it is likely that even with these expanded criteria that we will still have enough money for a phase three of the Discretionary Grants scheme, and likely to bring a report to the next executive meeting setting out further expanded criteria.”

Portfolio holder for communities, Sophie Meudec, said nearly 8,000 Ipswich homes had received Hardship Fund cash already, and added: “The additional options will lift some of the financial burden for some more families.

“Some residents will have missed out on the hardship fund because of the way the council tax reduction scheme is allocated.

“Increasing the Hardship Fund will also prevent rent arrears from accruing for some residents while waiting for their Universal Credit outcome.”

Councillor Ian Fisher, leader of the opposition Conservative group praised the council’s prompt action in handing out the grants, and asked if working families whose income had been severely reduced could also benefit from the Hardship Fund, although ut is understood the money must be spent on those on the Council Tax Reduction scheme.

Visit the Ipswich Borough Council website here for more information on the Hardship Fund and here for details of the Discretionary Grants.


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