Town Hall’s empty promises to business misses out vital grants

Not much fun: it’s nearly two weeks since pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants were ordered to close – with the shutters coming down on many town centre businesses, such as the Funhouse

There’s a lot more help available out there for businesses hit by the pandemic emergency than the council is letting on, reports KEN LEE

Businesses seeking support from Croydon Council during the covid-19 pandemic will find the Town Hall shelves as bare as many supermarket shelves.

The council’s response to the crisis for the small and medium-sized businesses in the borough was laid out in a press release on Friday from the Fisher’s Folly propaganda department.

Even by Croydon standards, this was a high water-mark for platitudinous piffle.

According to the press release, the council will set up a task force. And there will be a newsletter. And that’s it.

Yep, that’s what the best brains at the Town Hall can come up with at this time of existential crisis for many SMEs.

In an exercise in vacuousness, the press release states: “The new task force enables the council to adopt a business led [sic] approach to its delivery of critical support to businesses and employers across the borough, during this challenging time.”

But apart from the newsletter, and the suggestion that businesses that are being forced to close for an indefinite period because of coronavirus might want to visit a website for advice, nearly two weeks since the shutdown and the council’s press release tells us little more.

Manju Shahul-Hameed: not offering much for SMEs

Given the credit for this masterpiece in nothingness is Manju Shahul-Hameed, the council’s cabinet member for economy and jobs.

Apparently, the task force will be made up of all the usual suspects: London Growth Hub, Coast to Capital, the Federation of Small Businesses, the London Chamber of Commerce, the London Enterprise Action Partnership and the borough’s business improvement districts.

They will have a chat about what might be done, while Croydon’s shuttered businesses are in need of urgent, practical help.

“Croydon’s businesses are vital to the borough’s economy,” Councillor Shahul-Hameed tells us, in a glowing example of a statement of the bleedin’ obvious.

“Setting up this task force, with a business led [sic] approach, will help ensure they receive support tailored to their individual circumstances.” Notice the complete absence of any mention of money, whether through emergency support grants or breaks in demands for business rates or Council Tax.

“I’d encourage all local employers and businesses to seek our help if they are struggling and to sign up to our business newsletter which will keep them informed of the latest government announcements on the support and financial initiatives available to them at this critical time.”

It can only be hoped that the council’s promised newsletter contains more information than the detail-lite press release did.

Missing from the council’s press release, for instance, was mention that this week the government announced that it expects councils, including Croydon, to apply its national business rates relief immediately on demands.

Shutdown: South Croydon’s ‘Restaurant Quarter’ yesterday in mid-afternoon, where the only shop open was a Morley’s fried chicken outlet

Also entirely absent from the exercise in vacuity that was the council press release was reference to the government instruction to local authorities to send out letters urgently to seek applications for £10,000 small business grants, something you might think would be of interest to those running a commercial enterprise in these troubled times.

There’s even £25,000 grants available for those badly affected in the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors, all payable through the business rates system. Though again, there was no mention of any of this in the council press release.

Just the task force. And the newsletter.

Perhaps Councillor Shahul-Hameed, or the council officials who deal with local businesses, didn’t know about the initiatives announced by the government? Thankfully, if they read Inside Croydon, they will do now.


About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Business, Croydon BID, Croydon Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Croydon Council, Croydon FSB, Manju Shahul Hameed, Purley BID and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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