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Council proposal for a Business Survival Fund

Published: Friday, 17th April 2020

Birmingham City Council, with the support of the Core Cities, has submitted a proposal to Government requesting additional funding.

The funding has been requested to ensure local businesses impacted by COVID-19, survive, continue trading and safeguard existing jobs. 

The Government’s extensive support for business are very welcome, however the consensus is that the measures do not go far enough: more needs to be done to help businesses survive and prevent what would be an unprecedented economic collapse within Birmingham and the wider region.

The Council’s proposal to Government seeks additional grant funding to establish a £100m Business Survival Fund, to ensure that gaps in the current provision are addressed through responding to the needs of individual businesses. This will be complemented with additional Government funding to establish a National SME Equity Fund.

Feedback from SMEs to a council survey, undertaken at the end of March, attracted 1,000 responses. The results are stark: the vast majority of businesses have seen a collapse in revenues, are suffering serious cashflow problems, and are predicting that they will be letting staff go and even closing their business. Businesses are also continuing to struggle to access loan funding from the banks.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Ian Ward, said: “It's clear that COVID-19 has created an unprecedented crisis for Birmingham’s business community and we need urgent action now to safeguard jobs and futures. 

“Businesses across the city are telling us that the measures set out by Government do not go far enough and more needs to be done to help businesses survive and prevent what would be an unprecedented economic collapse across the City and wider region.

"The consensus is that it is time to go further and implement additional measures to retain as much of our business and employment base as we can. We are therefore urging the Government to ensure that badly hit businesses do not fall through the cracks."

The fund will enable the council to offer financial support to businesses which do not qualify for the Government's Small Business Grants or the Small Business Rates Relief (SBBR). In Birmingham, this represents near 70% of SME's in the city. Moreover, the fund will support SMEs for whom loan finance is not an accessible or appropriate option. 

Paul Faulkner, Chief Executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “While the business support measures set out by the Government to help companies through the Covid-19 crisis have been welcomed, it is clear that there are still a number of gaps that need to be plugged urgently.

“We welcome the proactive step taken by the council to request additional funding in order to ensure more businesses in our city-region can get through this unprecedented period.

“Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce will also continue to lobby central Government to ensure that cash gets to businesses quickly and those gaps in the support measures are addressed.”