Over 2,000 small businesses and charities in Merton have received a much needed financial boost to help them through the COVID-19 pandemic. Since April, Merton Council has paid out close to £30 Million in grants to many of the small and medium enterprises, charities and other organisations that are the lifeblood of our local economy.
The financial package was delivered in two phases. The first saw the council distribute £28.2 million from the government to 2,127 businesses. The grants, of either £10,000 or £25,000 each, were given to those who occupied a property and were in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief. Ministers recognised Merton as one of the top three councils in London for the speed that the money was distributed to local firms.
Subsequently, after London councils including Merton lobbied the government for further funds, a further £1.3 million was identified to distribute to small businesses, organisations and charities who were not eligible for the first phase of grants, a figure that the council has described as “woefully inadequate”. Grants for this scheme were discretionary, and prioritised small and micro businesses with high fixed property costs, as well as firms that help support less well-off Merton residents. 164 businesses, organisations and charities met the criteria and received grants of up to £25,000.
In total, the council has so far paid out £29,523,750, of which £29,318,000 has been provided by the government.
Councillor Mark Allison, Merton’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “Small businesses are the beating heart of our economy in Merton, and we know they have been struggling as a result of COVID-19. It’s therefore been a priority for us to support them and our borough’s charities as best we can. I want to thank all the council officers who worked hard to get the grants to them in such a timely manner.
“Many businesses ceased trading during the lockdown, so it was vital to get this £30 million out as quickly as possible so that firms could pay bills and wages, and be in a position to reopen once lockdown measures were relaxed.
“As a business-like council, we’re proud we ranked amongst the top three boroughs in London, but we wish we could have done more. We lobbied for our firms to get more and distributed more than we received as we could as fast as we could.
“The pandemic has cost Merton £26m more than we have been reimbursed by the government to date, and we are now looking at having to make unprecedented cuts to local services, so I hope businesses will recognise we could not have done more’