Mayor of London and business leaders urge companies in the capital to take up Covid-19 financial help

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan

The Mayor of London and the city’s business leaders are urging companies affected by the Covid-19 outbreak in the capital to take up financial aid available from the UK Government. 

Tens of thousands of businesses in London are thought to be eligible for Government help in the form of loans, grants and guarantees. Changes to the schemes since they launched at the beginning of April have helped banks to speed up the approval of loans for the smallest businesses. 

However many businesses are still unsure of how to make the most of the financial help available. 

In response, the London Growth Hub has launched a new online portal to guide businesses and employers on how to manage and mitigate their exposure to Covid-19. 

A survey of  businesses already in touch with the Hub found that nearly 9 in ten are concerned about cash flow, 79 per cent worried about declining sales and almost two-thirds anxious about paying their rent, mortgage or business rates. 

Among the firms in London to have accessed Government funding to help their business through this period include Sejuiced Ltd, which has been providing bespoke branded juice and smoothies to business and corporate events for the past 16 years. The company applied for and received a £10,000 small business grant via Lambeth Council to help support their operational costs during the pandemic. 

Smoothbean! Espresso and Wine Lounge in East Croydon has also accessed Government funding to help them through this period. The cafe has been open for business for almost six years as a coffee shop and completed a renovation of their premises just a month before lockdown to incorporate a wine bar with extended opening hours. The company applied for a £25,000 small business grant via Croydon Council to help support their business during the pandemic. 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The economic impact of the restrictions brought in to tackle Covid-19 will be far-reaching and long-lasting. I know many business owners are facing an acute cashflow crisis, as well as fears about the long-term impact of the lockdown. I urge businesses of all sizes and sectors to visit the London Growth Hub to explore the range of support available, and to take up all the financial assistance on offer from the Government to help them stay afloat during these unprecedented times.” 

Sejuiced owner Sylvia Garvin said: “Our industry had been especially hard hit by the lockdown measures, with both offices and events venues closed. Our drinks services are usually oversubscribed at this time of year, however due to the health crisis our revenues have dropped to zero and we’re instead facing an unprecedented financial situation. 

“Receiving a speedy small business grant has helped relieve pressure with our operational costs and enabled me to focus on preparing and adapting Sejuiced for business after the pandemic, rather than worrying about meeting payments in the immediate term”. 

Federation of Small Businesses London regional chair Michael Lassman said: “Now, more than ever, small businesses need to access the support that is available to them. If a business is yet to apply for that grant that is owed to them from the various ‘Government Covid-19 funding pots’ we urge them to do it now. Bank finance in the form of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is available and we have fought to make this less restrictive in terms of criteria for lending – so that avenue is available too. Cash flow is critical at this time so it is vital not to miss out on the funding available.” 

The London Growth Hub can also put business owners in touch with advisers that can offer free help and guidance as well as a wealth of essential resources for businesses.