Over the past month, in response to government guidance to close businesses and introduce social distancing measures, Winchester City Council has moved quickly to ensure local business owners and managers have access to all the support and information being made available for them. An extended edition of the council’s Entrepreneur e-newsletter has been sent to businesses this week setting out in detail the latest advice and guidance.

A key element of this has been to rapidly mobilise payment of 1,494 grants, totalling £19.365m of financial support to smaller businesses and the retail, leisure and hospitality sector across the district.  The Government has recently released national performance statistics around the rate that payments are being released by local authorities and Winchester is ranked highly in the top 25 per cent.

Grants are being made everyday to eligible businesses, providing vital help with cash flow for some of the most vulnerable local enterprises.  In addition the city council automatically applied business rates relief to all those businesses eligible to receive it. The council has written to businesses setting out the support available and is urging businesses who are not visiting their premises to collect correspondence, to contact the Business Rates team at businessrates@winchester.gov.uk to check their eligibility.

An accelerated approach to ensure grants reach businesses is making a real difference.

Claire Goodwin, Principal at Winchester Theatre Arts commented: “The efficiency and speed with which it was paid was overwhelming, and very much appreciated”. 

James Jenkins, Moneysprite Solent Ltd, commented “how pain free” the city council has made the process.

Cllr Anne Weir, Cabinet Member for Local Economy, said:

“All of us at Winchester City Council are committed to help our local businesses find the means and resources to provide for the safety and wellbeing of their employees and customers; to secure business finances, and where possible for businesses to put in place continuity plans.”

The council’s economy and tourism team is supporting local business by creating a central source of all the government help and advice on the council website. www.winchester.gov.uk/business/covid-19-support. The team can be contacted on ecodev@winchester.gov.uk