City organisations call to plug the gap for support for small business

Plymouth’s leading business support organisations are joining forces with the Council to campaign for small businesses that have missed out on vital Government support.

A letter is being sent today to the chair of the Local Government Association, Councillor James Jamieson asking for help to ‘plug the gaps’ for support for small businesses.

In Plymouth around 400 businesses - employing over 3,000 people - are still without a financial lifeline because they don’t fit the criteria for one of the grant schemes, despite Treasury announcements of a huge package of support for many sectors across the country.

Council Leader Tudor Evans OBE said: “We are collectively knocking on every door possible asking for help for these Plymouth companies. We are asking the LGA to demand action from the government. They meet the government regularly and we want to ensure they are raising these concerns of Plymouth businesses in those meetings.

“Many of these businesses are young start-up companies that could be vital in helping to re-boot the economy. They’ve been prudent, starting small while they develop and grow, taking units in business parks or operating from mobile pitches. Now not only have they had to stop their business, they have fallen through the gaps of the support packages available.

“We’ve also been contacted by businesses involved in events management and entertainment, for instance, who have seen their work completely dry up."

“These companies help make Plymouth a great place to live, they help families mark celebrations, they cannot be left to fend for themselves. They will go under without help.”

Chief Executive of the Devon & Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, Stuart Elford said: “We are delighted to be in a strategic partnership with the Council and other business groups to lobby hard with a united voice for businesses in our area and especially those who have fallen through the gaps in the current support packages. This provides a powerful voice and hard evidence to give us the best chance of success in helping local businesses to survive the current pandemic and emerge ready to do business as soon as the crisis is over.”

Jonathan Keable, Chairman of Federation of Small Businesses Plymouth added: “The FSB are pleased to be working with Plymouth City Council and local businesses, in our efforts to ensure all businesses have the level of support required to help them get through the Covid-19 health and economic crisis. Our joint purpose is to help all businesses survive and be in a position to retain their employees to rebuild our economy."

The letter highlights issues that still remain around businesses who fall just outside the eligibility criteria and where it is not possible for the Council to exercise discretion. They are:

  • Grants for businesses in managed workspaces that would otherwise have qualified for the Small Business Rates Relief Scheme

  • Businesses that only started trading recently which do not have a 2018/19 tax return to satisfy HMRC rules.

  • The self-employed, whose first year of trading did not make enough profit in their 2018/19 tax return.

  • Self-employed people who are in franchise agreements and who get no relief or payment holiday from their franchisor.

  • Directors of companies that draw their salary through a combination of PAYE and dividends and therefore are not eligible for the maximum £2,500 per month under the Job Retention Scheme.

The letter is being sent to the chair of the LGA as he has regular meetings with Government and is a key link in providing feedback from local councils. Other organisations standing alongside the council will share the letter with their national lobbying networks. A copy of the letter is being sent to the city’s MPs, Sir Gary Streeter MP, Johnny Mercer MP and Luke Pollard MP. It is also being sent to Karl Tucker, Chair, Heart of the South West LEP and the LEP’s CEO David Ralph and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

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