An independent evaluation of the Council’s micro-grant scheme has revealed that since its introduction in March 2020, 294 local businesses were saved from closure and over 500 families and employees from falling into personal and financial hardship.
At the beginning of the lockdown period, Councillors, recognising that many small businesses were not being included in national support schemes, committed £1.14m to support small, micro and one-person York businesses – including self-employed people – affected by COVID-19 restrictions but not eligible for the existing Government grants.
Aside from the practical themes of business survival and investment, feedback from local business owners evidenced that this support from the Council was deeply personal and important. Comments on the importance of the scheme included the following:
“It kept me alive and kept the business alive.”
“I would've gone under if it wasn't for the grant.”
“I can't really explain how much of a difference it made. …it really lifted me up mentally to know that we had a bit of help with the car rental costs, the tax, feeding my children which is what every father cares about more than anything. Thank you so much again it was greatly appreciated.”
“It made such a difference getting the help from you, just at the very beginning, the fact of not knowing what you would be getting in the bank and the stress of that mentally, it really helped. It made me so relieved and I actually cried when the email came through.”
The scheme has helped protect many local jobs and support businesses to become more resilient, and has also inspired the Government’s own programme of Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG).
Councillor Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning, commented:
“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, City of York Council has had a clear focus on working closely with the business community, supporting small and micro businesses, and promoting our unique approach to economic development and ensuring that support was distributed as quickly as possible. This collaboration and support will continue to underpin the next steps in our path to economic recovery.
“Apart from grants providing local traders the ability to invest to keep their business going, the evaluation of this scheme has also shown us just how much this has demonstrated support to individuals recognising that they, and their businesses would be needed in the recovery, but needed help to keep going during an incredibly difficult time.
“To this day we continue to call on the Chancellor to address the significant gaps that remain in current support, particularly for self-employed people and those businesses still unable to operate, or having to restrict their capacity.”
The independent Micro-Grant Evaluation Report can be found here: https://democracy.york.gov.uk/documents