We have supported Leaders from all of the Councils based in the Solent region to combine the effort they are all making for local businesses in the area in response to the Coronavirus pandemic and seek additional support from Government.
Jointly, the Solent based local authorities have received £279 million, of which £132.3 million has already been forwarded to over 10,500 businesses, and they are continuing to work hard to process further payments as quickly as possible. In a letter to the Secretary of States, Alok Sharma (Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) and Robert Jenrick (Housing, Communities and Local Government) the group explained that while this level of support was much appreciated, there is more that the Government can do to support regional businesses.
Councillor Barry Rickman, Leader of the New Forest District Council, who signed the letter on behalf of all Solent Leaders & the Solent LEP, said:
"We welcome the unprecedented financial support and appreciate this has been developed within a short timeframe. Yet there remain significant gaps in the support provided by Government through Councils and for the economy to “bounce back” we need as many of our businesses as possible to be in place, once we are through these tough times.
We are asking Government for the flexibility to provide 100% rate relief for 2020/21 to all businesses with a rateable value of under £51,000. They would then automatically receive the £25,000 grant from their local council, thereby potentially saving the business from insolvency, and the resulting impact this will have on our local economy."
The Chair of our Board Brian Johnson said:
"For the Leaders of all of the Councils in the Solent region to work together in this way, and to collectively respond to the Government about the provision for businesses in the region is a great example of the shared values everyone is showing at this time. I am proud of the work that the LEP and colleagues at the Councils have done through the Solent Leaders Forum to work together at this difficult time and this collaboration demonstrates a genuine desire from all to help the region's businesses to survive this unprecedented pandemic."