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More funding needed for coronavirus recovery

More funding needed for coronavirus recovery

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 6:21pm 30th April 2020.

By Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter 

More financial support will have to be provided by the government to help businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly recover after the coronavirus lockdown is lifted.

That was the message from the chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) who warned that the road to recovery would be “very long”.

Mark Duddridge said that there was a “huge amount of concern” about how Cornwall’s economy will recover from the current inactivity.

His comments echo similar concerns raised by the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce and Visit Cornwall which have both warned that a significant number of businesses could collapse.

Cornwall Council has helped to distribute more than £200million in government grants to more than 18,000 businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

“The business grants that have been given out are helping businesses to get through this period. But there will need to be more. We are starting to think about how do we, as Cornwall, reopen safely.”

             Mark Duddridge, chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership

The LEP chair said that there was understanding that things could happen too soon and there was a fear that if restrictions are lifted too soon they could cause a second wave of the pandemic.

Mr Duddridge said that work was being done to see how restrictions could be lifted to help industries in Cornwall such as the hospitality and tourism industry so they could operate again safely.

He said: “I am absolutely sure that there will be more funding needed to keep these businesses afloat. And it will have to be the business grant approach rather than the loan scheme as many of these businesses will not be able to take on additional debt.”

Mr Duddridge said that some tourism and hospitality businesses had also been affected further after making improvements to their facilities ready for the new season.

He said: “Before this crisis a lot of businesses were investing quite heavily to improve their offer and now have had to close.”

And he added: “This recovery period is very likely to be a very much longer period than the current restrictions.

“If we are, rightly, to do this thing safely there will be a need for more support. It is a bit ‘how long is a piece of string’ at the moment and we need to wait for the guidance on when restrictions might change.”

Cornwall Council leader Julian German has also called on the government to provide more flexibility in the criteria for the business grants currently available.

He said: “I do remain deeply concerned that not all businesses that need this grant money can access it.”

The council leader said that businesses such as those based in innovation centres in Cornwall were not able to get the money and were facing an uncertain future.

He said that the centres support 120 high growth businesses but because they pay alternative fees to business rates they are not eligible for the funding.

Cllr German highlighted one business owner who said that they “have not a penny rolling in at the moment, literally nothing”.

They said that while the £10,000 grant being provided by the government would enable the company to remain in the innovation centre because they cannot get the funding they were considering leaving the centre and warned that jobs are at risk.

Cllr German said: “His story is not unique, many businesses in Cornwall are facing similar difficulties. I would once again ask the government to look at the system and the qualifying criteria.”

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