Ipswich businesses given £5m in Covid payments

Check out our rundown of the best beer gardens in Ipswich Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Check out our rundown of the best beer gardens in Ipswich Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Last week I outlined some of the extra measures Ipswich Borough Council is taking to help individuals affected by coronavirus. 

We are also putting a lot of effort into helping local businesses. 

Councils are responsible for distributing much of the funding the Government has made available to businesses. So far, we have paid out over £5m to nearly 700 Ipswich-based businesses. 

As with help for individuals, we have also been given discretionary funding to help businesses that have fallen through the cracks of the Government’s national schemes. 

The Government has made grants available to businesses that are forced to close which can provide up to £3,000 per month. However, these are based on the business rates they are paying. 


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Many businesses have been caught out by this because, for instance they may just pay rent to a landlord who pays the business rates. For others the payment in no way compensates them for their full losses. 

We are using our discretionary funding to loosen the criteria so more Ipswich businesses are eligible for help. 

Struggling Ipswich pubs could get £25k each to survive pandemic

Ipswich pubs struggling during the pandemic could receive a £25,000 windfall to help them survive the coronavirus crisis.

Other hospitality businesses, such as restaurants, could also get money if Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) funding from Ipswich Borough Council is approved.

Venues have warned the crisis and ongoing restrictions are leaving them severely damaged, with Dove Street Inn landlord Ady Smith saying pubs are living with "total uncertainty" and fears their pubs could go the wall before Easter without further help.

Now Ipswich Borough Council, which has already distributed millions of pounds of grants using funding from the government to help those whose trade has been hit, will debate a report at a meeting next week to consider handing out more cash.

If agreed, it could mean all 60-plus pubs within the Ipswich council area receiving £5,000 a month between November 2020 and March 2021 - subject to state aid rules being met.

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How many of our 50 pub quiz questions can you answer correctly? Can you get a perfect score on our Suffolk round? Picture: GETTY - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Income reductions would also have to be greater than the grant received in order to qualify.

A similar scheme would be available for other hospitality and leisure businesses, although a £300,000 cap on the overall total the council can give out would mean these businesses may not get as much as £5,000 a month.

Another scheme to support independent town centre retailers could also be brought in, again with a £300,000 total limit.

Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere said: “We know that our pubs and our hospitality sector are being hugely impacted by the restrictions brought about by Covid-19.

"Our new scheme is intended to directly support them and provide them with certainty around the level of support they will receive over the next couple of months.

"We’re also looking forward to working with small retailers in the town centre to design a scheme which will give them the support they need.”

Ady Smith warned it could already be too late for pubs to take advantage of any Christmas trade. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ady Smith warned it could already be too late for pubs to take advantage of any Christmas trade. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Mr Smith, who also runs the Gladstone Arms, said: "Obviously, anything at the moment is going to be of help.

"If they're going to do a grant of that sort of figure, that would get us through to the end of March.

"We're not looking to make anything. We're just looking to survive, so when this is over we're able to go back to normal.

"The hospitality industry has been decimated and blamed, whereas we've actually invested heavily in being Covid-secure.

The fight happened outside the Dove Street Inn Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The fight happened outside the Dove Street Inn Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

"We've spent £30,000 between the two pubs making them Covid compliant. We were doing the responsible thing.

"I hope the councillors do come up with some form of support. 23 years of hard graft has gone down the pan."

hospitality businesses and independent town centre retailers who have been particularly hard hit. This could top up payments to £5,000 per month from November to March depending on income lost.  

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We are also trying to make it easier for businesses to apply for the grants they are entitled to. There are now a huge number of overlapping grant schemes with new ones being introduced at the beginning and end of every lockdown.  

We shouldn’t expect business owners to have to work out which grants they are eligible for and make separate applications so they only have to fill in one form on the council’s website. This will give us all the information we need to work out which grants should be paid. 

Where we are able, we will automatically pay businesses we already have the correct information for. 

However, we believe there are over 300 Ipswich businesses who may be eligible for grants but haven’t applied. We have written encouraging them to do so and our message is: “If in doubt, apply.”  

Details and application forms are available online at: www.ipswich.gov.uk/businessratesgrant  

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