Key updates - 29 April
- Financial support for B&B and guest house owners
The District Council has been lobbying central Government about financial support for B&B and guest house owners since those that pay council tax rather than business rates (therefore do not have a rateable value) are ineligible for the small business grants announced by the Chancellor.
Cllr Daren Pemberton, Deputy Leader says: "We know how important B&Bs and guest houses are to our local economy and that is why we have been lobbying central Government to see what support is available to them.
"We have received a letter from our MP Nadhim Zahawi, who has had a response from Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers & Labour Markets and although not great news immediately, he has said they are continuing to look at 'where businesses are potentially falling through the cracks of support and will continue to assess such scenarios.'
"The Government also said that these grants are one part of a broader package of support for businesses and employees and that other support provided might be more suitable. They also urged these businesses to lobby tourism groups so they can recount their individual experiences and we would support this."
We will continue to lobby for the B&B sector and urge individual businesses to also write to the B&B association who are in direct discussion with the Government.
- Financial cost of coronavirus
The District Council is currently projecting the financial impact will be a loss of £8.1m of revenue (e.g. parking charges and planning fees) in the first half of this municipal year alone. This lost revenue will NEVER be recovered.
In addition, extra costs incurred to date are at £337K and rising.
All of this excludes the ongoing impact of lower economic activity, the loss of revenue from lower business rates and council tax collection with many more residents eligible for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme of 80%.
The second tranche of funding from Central Government announced yesterday evening, (28 April) allocated the District Council £1,299,602 and will be nowhere near enough to plug the hole in our revenue for 2020-21. This covers about 63 days spend.
All of this will inevitably impact on our ability to deliver services at their current level in the future.
The Government have fully funded the initiatives for business grants and the hardship fund.
- Committee Meetings
All regular committee meetings were cancelled apart from the Extraordinary meeting of Council, which took place on 26 March and provided the necessary delegations to keep the Council running.
An internal working group has been set up to progress the Council holding virtual meetings in accordance with the recent legislation passed by Government.
It is proposed that the first virtual meeting, using MS Teams, will be the Overview and Scrutiny Committee scheduled for 10 June. More details to follow nearer the time.
- Economic Recovery
A report compiled by the Centre for Progressive Policy think tank predicts that Stratford-on-Avon District will face the fourth biggest economic hit of all local authorities in the UK from coronavirus. Here's the District Council's response:
Cllr Daren Pemberton, Deputy Leader says: "The report published very much reflects our own thinking and our own analysis shows the level of response that will be needed to start and maintain the recovery.
"We are facing a perfect storm because many of our key businesses are in the tourism and hospitality sectors, which will be the last out of lockdown, while the automotive and manufacturing sectors will be deeply affected by the inevitable worldwide slowdown."
He went on to say: "We've already started doing the critical thinking and our future decisions will be crucial to supporting and enabling recovery. We are already shaping our economic plans by engaging with businesses, local authority partners and other key stakeholders. At the same time we are already lobbying our local MPs and central Government about the issues that we will face in the future. The Government has already put a number of measures in place to support businesses locally which we support and we will do all we can to provide the necessary support to give our businesses and residents the best chance of economic recovery."
- Business rate grants
To date payments have been processed for 1,873 businesses with a total of almost £23m being distributed.
We are still waiting to hear from around 500 businesses which have yet to apply.
For more information and to apply visit: https://www.stratford.gov.uk/business-investment/covid-19-and-busines-rates.cfm
Please note: To protect business from fraudsters the District Council will not be asking for bank details over the phone, we will be directing them to completing the online form. Please do not disclosure your Business Rates Account number to anyone.
If you have any further enquiries please email: BRG@stratford-dc.gov.uk
Cllr Tony Jefferson, Leader of Stratford-on-Avon District Council says: "Many of the initiatives put in place to cope with the COVID-19 emergency are now becoming routine. This does not mean that work on these stops, but it does mean that we can begin to think about and work on the economic recovery of the District. As Cllr Pemberton says: "… we are going to be badly hit by the perfect storm."
"There will be no going back to the pre COVID-19 situation and there is, at present, no clear picture of the future. There are some things that are not in doubt however, it will be a time for clear analytical thinking, facing issues head on and realising that we have to deploy scarce resources where they can do the most good."
Stratford-on-Avon District Council
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