Bakeries, music venues, pottery studios, historical walking tours and cafes are among the hundreds of small businesses across the capital which are being kept afloat by an innovative support scheme launched by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
According to new figures, Londoners have demonstrated how much they value their independent local businesses by making more than 11,000 contributions through Pay It Forward London – so far raising in excess of £750,000 to help more than 300 businesses.
The Mayor launched the scheme in April, at the height of the pandemic, which allows Londoners to support small businesses currently affected by the pandemic, in exchange for goods or services which can be delivered once they are able to return to normal or near-normal operation.
Following on the success of the scheme, in July Sadiq launched his £1 million Back To Business Fund, which matches funds raised through Pay it Forward London to help small businesses adapt during the pandemic. This is helping companies invest in developing their online presence and training their staff in digital marketing, for example, or physical measures such as Perspex screens and contactless payment systems to enable socially distanced trading.
Each business is eligible for match-funding of up to £5,000 from the Mayor: so far more than 200 businesses have applied and in excess of £200,000 has been allocated through the Back To Business Fund. The money allocated has also been leveraged to generate an additional £450,000 in investment for affected businesses.
Businesses already being hit by the impact of further restrictions face a number of other challenges in the coming weeks and months. This includes the end of the business rates holiday in March – which will see many business again paying rates while their revenue remains far below pre-pandemic levels – as well as the end of the Government’s furlough scheme, which has prompted fears of even more Londoners losing their jobs.
When elected Sadiq promised to be the most pro-business Mayor that London has ever had and these schemes are part of a wider package of measures. Last month he launched his expanded London Business Hub, which offers a range of tailored support to help businesses in all sectors adapt to the challenges of the pandemic as well as prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said, “I’m so proud we have already helped so many small businesses across our city through the hugely difficult recent months. The amount of support Londoners have shown so far is nothing short of fantastic.
“The Covid-19 pandemic will have far-reaching and long-lasting effects on our economy – so I’m urging any small business which hasn’t yet taken advantage of this support to do so. And I also hope all Londoners will consider how they can play their part in helping their independent, local businesses through these challenging times.
“Over the coming months, financial support for businesses in hospitality, retail, leisure and culture will be even more important. The Government needs to step up and provide a proper, targeted package of support for business which will be unable to continue trading through further periods of social distancing and restrictions.”