Lincolnshire County Council pledge to spend £22 million on businesses and road repairs
and live on Freeview channel 276
The authority’s executive agreed to put aside £12 million from the reserve for local businesses facing difficulties in the Covid-19 pandemic, alongside another £200,000 for an emergency flood response scheme.
A further £10 million will also be taken from the council’s capital programme to help repair rural roads.
The £12 million business funding breaks down into:
£7m grants for business not receiving government help whatsoever — including businesses started during the pandemic and those who have taken bounce-back loans from the government
£1m for vouchers of £1,000 to help businesses get onto digital platforms — e-commerce, contactless payment and websites
£1.5m for village businesses and local initiatives — £3-25,000 grants covering 75 per cent diversification funds adapting to Covid-19/Brexit challenges
£2.5m for investment funds for rapid growth — mainly for young businesses with “great ideas” (grants between £25-75,000)
Executive member for economic development, Coun Colin Davie said there were 43,0000 small business in the county, who “are the backbone of our economy”.
He said: “They are the best of our county and they represent the opportunity of the future.
“We know that will be a high demand for the grant, and we may not be able to help everybody that makes an application, but if there was ever a time businesses in Lincolnshire needed our help, it’s now.”
At the end of January, furlough take-up was 10.7 per cent – around 35,700 people – below the national average of 12.6 per cent.
The authority has so far handed out £227 million of grant funding, but says up to 2,000 businesses have been unable to claim support.
Coun Davie’s proposals were backed by council leader Coun Martin Hill, who said: “It has been exceptionally stressful for small businesses.
“Although the government has been very generous and given huge sums of money to support businesses […] there are unfortunately still some businesses which have fallen through the cracks and we need to support them.”
He added: “It’s not just about supporting those businesses to make sure they do survive, but also that they are in a good place to actually expand and invest.”
Coun Richard Davies, executive member for highways, said the spend “sends a really powerful message that Lincolnshire County Council, with its financial reserves […] is in a position when times are very tough to candidly get the chequebook out.”
He said the £10 million for roads would go to the “core network” of roads which were the “lifeline of our communities”
He said: “I’m afraid it’s fair to say that some of our smaller rural roads, while incredibly important for connecting our more isolated rural communities, are in need of some support, and I think now’s a great opportunity.
Following the meeting of the executive, Katrina Pierce from the Federation of Small Businesses told a press conference the move was an “incredible intervention” from the county council.
She said: “It’s the first scheme of its kind in the entire country and I think this really blazes a trail, and we are going to be pushing very hard for local parties across the UK to follow suit.
“What councillors have shown here is incredible leadership, and a definite recognition of the agony and frustration that so many business owners across the country have faced since the outbreak of Covid-19 and they can clearly see that many can wait no longer. “
The budget changes, along with proposals already agreed to increase council tax by 1.99 per cent, will go before scrutiny committee before going to a vote at Full Council on Friday, February 19.
Once agreed, the grants will be offered in a staggered approach, with bosses hoping to start the first batch at noon on Tuesday, February 23, followed by the other schemes in early March.
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.
Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.
With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper.
Nancy Fielder, editor