Council sneaks out news of £10,000 business covid grants

Croydon businesses forced to close for the second covid-19 lockdown have until Dec 31 to apply for their share of £7.7m government grant

Hamida Ali: been given a media minder

There may be a recruitment freeze at Fisher’s Folly, but that hasn’t prevented Hamida Ali, the old-new leader of the council, taking on a media adviser.

The adviser is not a member of council staff, and is believed to have been parachuted in by Labour Party officials to help Ali cope with the demands of the financial crisis at the council.

The move is a rapid response after Labour officials at London Region heard Ali’s car crash of an interview with Radio London’s Vanessa Feltz last month.

If you haven’t heard the interview already, here it is once more…

The media adviser, if they have the scope to offer a bit of broader advice, might like to have a word with Councillor Ali about the propaganda department in Fisher’s Folly, and how issuing press releases at 6.30 on a Friday evening might be a waste of effort – unless, that is, you don’t want anyone to find out about the news you are “announcing”.

That’s certainly what it looked like before the weekend, on the eve of Small Business Saturday, when the council press office smuggled out a release about a new tranche of grants for the borough’s hard-pressed SMEs who had been forced to close during the second national coronavirus lockdown.

In contrast, the slick media professionals at City Hall put out a statement on behalf of London Mayor Sadiq Khan which sought to offer real support to the capital’s businesses, encouraging Londoners to support their local shops, pubs and restaurants as many opened for their first weekend trading for a onth.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan: providing real support for businesses

Khan said that we “… can all show our support for the independent and locally-run shops, cafés, restaurants and other small businesses that make our city so great.

“This year, our small businesses need us more than ever. In particular those in retail and hospitality, and others who rely on in-person customers, have had a really tough year.”

Mayor Khan offered suggestions of the many ways to support a local or small business:

  • Shop local
  • Shop independent
  • Shop online with local makers
  • Post about your favourite shops on social media
  • Leave them good reviews
  • Attend online classes and events
  • Pay for things now and enjoy them later at payitforward.london.gov.uk

Meanwhile, Croydon Council appears to be doing its best to keep quiet about receiving £7,734,200 from the government in a discretionary grant to share among the borough’s firms that had to close between November 5 and December 2.

It’s probably all a bit too much bother for the council to let the borough’s businesses know that they can get up to £10,000 under the scheme.

Given how poorly Croydon performed in comparison to other local authorities when distributing similar grants during the first lockdown, maybe someone has decided that keeping the government’s millions in the civic bank account for the time being might be more useful for the bankrupt borough.

Under the scheme, the money will be available in two parts – first the council will share £3.5million among eligible companies needing to cover urgent costs in December. The remainder will become available in January so businesses can invest in any new equipment or technology that will help future growth.

Priority will be given to non-essential retail, leisure, personal care, sports facilities and hospitality businesses, according to the council press release.

Buried away on a less-than-easy-to-locate page on the council website is information about who is eligible for the one-off Additional Restrictions Grant and how to apply. Awards will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, and range from £2,000 to £10,000.

Eligible businesses, which can include home-based firms and social partnerships, must have a Croydon trading address, have been actively trading on November 4 before being forced to shut due to the second lockdown, and have lost at least 20 per cent of their income as a result of covid-19. Applications, according to the council, close December 31.

The council has also received a separate £5.85million share of the government’s Local Restrictions Support Grant for local companies. These firms, which must pay local business rates and also have been closed during the second lockdown, qualify for up to £3,000 depending on their rateable values.

“Businesses owners who think they are eligible but have not heard from the council are encouraged to get in touch via an online form on the council website,” the council propaganda department said in a press release that they probably hoped no one would notice.

So it’s probably just as well that Inside Croydon did. We will, as ever, be very interested to hear from any businesses about their experience in dealing with the council to access the grant funds.


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 Council, Hamida Ali, London-wide issues, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Council sneaks out news of £10,000 business covid grants

  1. moyagordon says:

    Well spotted insidecroydon. Keep up the good work!

  2. Kevin Croucher says:

    The Labour Party has finally realized how badly this shower reflects upon the party as a whole. Can they stop some of them from standing as councillors again.

  3. Open question to Tony Newman and Simon Hall:

    Which is better value, providing an extra 100 x £50,000 business grants (above the Government allocation) or paying hush money to a grossly underperforming CEO because you were scared what she’d say about you?

    I’m referring to the obscene payment Newman and Hall signed off for the CEO who in any other council would have been sacked.

    Or, for £500,000, you could have built and equipped a brand new school sports hall.

    I’ll assume you won’t be answering any of these questions because you were never in the business of serving Croydon residents.

  4. Allan says:

    It’s just unbelievable that no one on salaries in excess of £100k a year already on payroll couldn’t have taken on this role. Sorry but wtf are we paying these obscene salaries for if not to deliver for Croydon residents. I would really like to see a job against achievements assessment for everyone at Croydon Council paid over £85K a year.

    • The media adviser is, we understand, a political appointment from outside the council, Allan. Besides, the council already has a fully-fledged propaganda department which had an annual budget of £500,000-plus.

  5. paul huppert says:

    has anyone got this business covid grant? or anyone actually completed the forms? they go on forever. i’m on page 21 with another 450 to go, seemingly. running out of time at this rate. why do they make it soooooooooo long? it’s as if they don’t want to issue the grants.

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