Newcastle City Council is urging taxi drivers and other essential businesses to get ready for a new grant scheme that will launch on Monday 22 February.
With funding availability and criteria set by government, the council has developed a new scheme aimed at helping businesses who have been excluded from earlier grant schemes as they have been classed as essential and allowed to trade during lockdown but are suffering from severe financial impact due to lost trade.
This includes a one-off payment of £250 for every taxi driver that has been licensed with Newcastle City Council since 31 December 2020. The council estimate that around 4,000 drivers will benefit from the scheme.
Grants worth £4,000 are also available for essential businesses who are allowed to remain open during restrictions so weren’t eligible for support grants. As this funding is limited to a maximum of £500,000, the council is urging eligible firms not to delay in applying, as grants will be allocated in order of applications received.
Cllr Ged Bell, cabinet member for employment and culture at Newcastle City Council said:
“Almost £90 million has been administered in business support grants to help keep our city’s economy going. Sadly, this hasn’t been enough to support every business in the city, with many falling through the cracks of previous government schemes and limited funding available.
“In recognition of this, we’re targeting this funding to get much-needed support to those businesses who have been left behind. When many businesses were forced to close during lockdown, they were financially compensated to mitigate for lost trade. But for those not forced to close, there is no financial support and things are incredibly challenging, with high costs and lack of customers and this scheme is aimed at alleviating the huge cost pressures they are facing.
“This includes taxi drivers, who have seen their trade disappear and who provide such a fantastic service for our key workers who need to get to work.
“We have set aside a further £500,000 to support businesses with commercial premises who are deemed as essential and allowed to remain open so didn’t quality for grants this winter, but have seen a significant drop in takings as people are told to stay at home.
“This could be a once-busy sandwich shop, which used to feed city workers who are now working from home, or a takeaway that relied on the night-time economy for their trade, or even childcare providers who have seen the number of children attending their services drop dramatically.
“These are just a few examples. There is only a limited amount of funding available, so we are urging eligible businesses to get ready to apply, as we expect this funding to be allocated quickly, so please don’t delay.
“We know this is really challenging times for businesses across the city and we will continue to lobby government for greater financial support to help keep Newcastle businesses in business and people in jobs.”
The Essential Business Grant Scheme is open to the following eligible businesses:
- Taxi drivers who held a valid Taxi Driver Licence with Newcastle City Council on 31/12/2020. Grants will be a one-off payment of £250.
- Small and medium sized businesses who operate from commercial premises in Newcastle that have experienced a significant financial impact, who have not been able to receive a Covid-19 Winter Grant due to the eligibility criteria. To access this grant, businesses will need to provide evidence of their commercial premises and the financial impact experienced. Grants will be a one-off payment of £4,000. This funding is limited and will be allocated in order of applications received.
The scheme will launch on Monday 22 February at 10am at www.newcastle.gov.uk/covidbusinesssupport