Unprecedented £1.1bn Aid Package Needs to be Delivered Quickly

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A business leader says the unprecedented Covid-19 support will help North Wales through the pandemic and support businesses to bounce back in its aftermath.

According to Ashley Rogers, the commercial director of the North Wales and Mersey Dee Business Council, the £1.1 billion package from Welsh Government of extra measures for Wales was a potential lifeline for businesses across the region.

But it was “absolutely vital” that the support was delivered quickly, to ensure that businesses were given the best chance possible to survive so that they could provide jobs and prosperity once the crisis was over.

The package revealed by the First Minister is made up of reprioritised cash from existing budgets and is over and above the previous measures announced by both UK and Welsh governments.

It includes a £500m economy crisis fund for businesses, charities and social enterprises, made up of a £400m Economic Resilience Fund and a £100m Covid-19 Wales Business Loan Scheme.

The business loan scheme delivered by the Development Bank of Wales is designed to help firms with cashflow problems, with loans between £5,000 and £250,000 with minimal interest payments.

The economic Resilience Fund is an emergency fund pot providing grants of £10,000 to firms employing up to nine people, and grants of up to £100,000 to businesses with 10 to 250 employees, as well as support for larger companies.

Mr Rogers said:

“We are grateful to the Welsh and UK governments because it is clear they have pulled out all the stops, but as ever the devil will be in the detail and the delivery of these supports.

“The absolutely vital thing is that the available supports are delivered very quickly, because companies and self-employed people across every sector have been affected by this.

“It’s clear from my discussions with individual businesses and Business Council members that the vast majority of businesses across all sectors have furloughed staff. Nobody is insulated from this.

“We welcomed last week the new scheme announced by UK Government for the self-employed, bringing support for most self-employed people to the same level as that for employees. This was a key ask of the Business Council in our letter to both UK and Welsh governments.

“On the existing business grants from Welsh Government connected to business rates, we advise businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors, and also those from other sectors eligible for Small Business Rates Relief, to go to their relevant local authority website and confirm their details using the online forms available. This ensures our councils have the correct details so that they can process efficiently any grants due.

“It is now superb to see the new Welsh Government Economic Resilience Fund and the Covid-19 Wales Business Loan Scheme.

“It seems, with the detail currently available, that these new additional Welsh Government supports will be a great help to businesses across all sectors, which is crucial for North Wales that has strengths across multiple sectors including manufacturing, creative and digital, logistics, tourism, professional services and social care.

“In fairness, both the UK and Welsh governments have moved incredibly quickly to put this package of supports together over the last few weeks.

“Ultimately though, the support has to be delivered and at speed, and as long as it is, it will help the majority of businesses across different sectors. This will provide a decent foundation for the regional economy to bounce back after Covid-19 to support our communities, residents and businesses across North Wales.

“Once the finer details of the new Welsh Government support is available, we will then have the full picture of support for our businesses, and should any significant gaps be identified then we will work with our members and public sector partners to see how they can be addressed.”

More information about the Covid-19 business support is available at https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice