The council has been on hand helping businesses throughout the pandemic with financial support and operational guidance as well as supporting the borough-wide high street taskforce to help local business recover and bounce back from the economic challenges.
Since the start of COVID-19 pandemic the council’s finance team have paid £131.619 million in awards, with 21,107 grant payments provided to local business. In addition, £103.286 million was given in business rate reliefs.
One benefactor from the discretionary grants is local charity CAPE, which provides vital mental health services for Ealing residents, through one-to-one psychological support and also run a charity shop in Acton.
“The discretionary grants helped sustain us through potential insolvency, meaning we will not be another shop closure statistic and have been able to open again with a bright new shop layout,” said Patsy Richardson, CAPEs shop’s non-executive director. (Read their full story)
The Hanwell Hootie Music Festival also received much needed funding through the Cultural Sector Grant. Run as a community interest company (cic), the first Hootie took place in 2013 with 13 bands in 3 venues and in 2019 it had grown to over 100 bands in 17 venues with more than 25,000 attendees, becoming the UK’s largest one-day free music festival.
The annual event has always been free to attend, which enables anyone across Ealing’s diverse community to take part, regardless of social background or circumstance. As well as the feel-good factor that festival goers gain from the friendly atmosphere and amazing performances, local businesses also benefit bringing a much needed boost to the local economy.
After cancelling the event in 2020 and again this year due to the pandemic, organisers are planning to hold a small Hootie this September, in the Viaduct Meadow only, depending upon the government restrictions.
June Martin, Hanwell Hootie director, said: “The Hootie is run by volunteers and the infrastructure involved in organising a festival of this size is immense, so the Cultural Sector Grant will enable us to put on a smaller Hootie this year without jeopardising the full Hootie in 2022.
“The funding will be used to implement enhanced public health measures necessary to ensuring COVID safety at the event as well as enabling us to add an additional stage to allow more bands to play in this arena than we usually have.”
Many of the local businesses who would usually provide financial sponsorship are unable to do so, as they are themselves recovering from the significant economic effects of the pandemic,” said June. “The grant from the Cultural Sector Grant will be used to cover the increased running costs required to ensure a safe and inclusive community music festival.
“We know that many people have missed live music and the Hootie in particular, so this will give a taste of the next full Hootie that will take place in May 2022 – hopefully!”
The council’s finance team continues to distribute funds to local businesses including processing applications for the Restart Grant scheme for non-essential retail and hospitality and leisure businesses, who have not already received funding. And applications will open later this year for the business pioneers grant aimed at supporting Ealing’s entrepreneurs, micro and small businesses.
Additional support such as free courses will also be on offer to help businesses recover and rebuild with more details on these to come in the next few months.
COVID-19 Secure support
In addition to financial support, the council’s regulatory service continues to help businesses to comply with COVID-19 legislation, provide safe working environments for their employees and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in their premises.
Over the past year, regulatory services have provided direct advice to 375 local businesses on how to comply with the various COVID-19 rules and reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus. They also carried out more than 600 detailed premise inspections for COVID compliance, while Ealing’s COVID-19 stewards visited more than 3,000 businesses to support local business owners, distributing materials to help businesses put in place safe measures including floor stickers and face covering posters and continuing to visit Ealing’s high street to help ensure that they are safe.
To ensure that there is a fair and safe trading environment, the council has also carried out robust enforcement action to prevent businesses from breaching restrictions to gain an unfair competitive advantage. Last year more than 100 Prohibition Notices and Fixed Penalty Notices were issued to businesses who contravened COVID-19 laws. While trading standards officers seized nearly a million items of illicit, counterfeit or substandard PPE items, such as face masks and sanitisers before they entered the market and put people’s health at risk.
Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, member for decent living incomes, said: “We know that local businesses need our support more than ever in navigating these challenging times, as our economy has been hit hard and the past year has been one of the toughest on record for many. As we cautiously follow the path out of the pandemic, the council will to continue focus on supporting local businesses to help rebuild our economy and ensure that local businesses are operating in a safe manner to protect their employees and customers.”
If you run a business in Ealing you can find out more about the support available by visiting the council’s COVID-19 Help for Business webpages. Businesses can also contact firstname.lastname@example.org for detailed advice. And don’t forget to sign-up to the council’s business database to get email updates on the latest advice and guidance and ensure you don’t miss out on support.
Support to get back on track
Work to help Ealing’s high streets get back on track is delivered by Ealing’s High Streets Taskforce and is supported with £601,518 of funding as part of the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund and the Welcome Back Fund from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Greater London Authority is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.