City map of York indicating Independent businesses
City map of York indicating Independent businesses

Rachael Maskell MP is calling on City of York Council to take urgent steps to use Government resources to support York’s independent businesses who have fallen through the cracks in the Government’s support package to protect them from future economic difficulties due to Covid-19.

Over the past 4-months Rachael has been working with independent businesses across the city who have been unable to access the Government’s Business Support grants and have also been frozen out of the City of York Council’s Discretionary Grant programme which caps eligibility of businesses with a rateable value above £51k. Due to relatively high rateable values in York, this has hit many of our local independent businesses who operate in premises that fall above this amount.

These businesses include some of York’s best loved children’s play providers who operate from large premises that are still unable to reopen and have so far been denied access to any grant support.  Other businesses include local food and drink producers, speciality retailers and independent boutique hotels, who provide good quality jobs, draw people to the city and generate business for other local firms in their supply chains.

City of York Council have a £2.2m discretionary grant fund that was closed to new applicants on June 30th.  To date, City of York Council have not used its discretion in order to rescue these businesses, unlike other local authorities. there may still be surplus money to spend, and is urging the Council to target any surplus at independent York businesses that have so far missed out on grant funding.

Many other well established York businesses providing goods and services from smaller premises with rateable values of over £15k have also struggled to access grant funding after they were found not to qualify for the Government’s Retail Hospitality and Leisure Grants Scheme.

Rachael said;

“As a city that specialises in retail, tourism and hospitality rents are often high and many local companies have been stung by missing the rateable value cap, thus being disqualified from accessing lifeline grants. The Council had the opportunity to rectify this however have chosen not to unlike many other Councils in high rateable value areas.  Being a tourism hub York has a great many businesses who support the hospitality industry who have also been left with no grant support and now urgently need help as their seasons have been cut short and orders are down.”

“Under the Discretionary Grant scheme, Councils can change the eligibility criteria to allow more businesses to benefit while protecting jobs. City of York Council did not do this. Questions must be asked why they have cut these businesses loose through not underpinning their future and have stood by to watch them struggle, people made redundant and some businesses close. I urge City of York Council to commit to using any underspend strategically to bail out these businesses before it is too late for them and the wider economy.”

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