Hundreds of small businesses throughout the South West will now benefit from government coronavirus grants due to a campaign spearheaded by two Bristol businesswomen.
Backed by Business West and its Chambers of Commerce network, Becca Luger and Jacky Puzey, the campaign has helped to ensure they will now receive council grants to help their businesses survive the lockdown.
They both run small businesses in Bristol that had slipped through the cracks of the local council grants scheme because they do not pay business rates directly to the council but to their landlords as a part of their rent.
Business West Chambers of Commerce took up their case and lobbied the small business minister, Paul Scully, with a letter signed by 400 businesses from Bristol and Bath to highlight the issue.
And at the weekend after the lobbying, the government decided to award an extra £617 million to local authorities to fill the cracks created in the system, so that Becca and Jacky get the financial support they need.
Baker Becca, who runs Crumpet Cakes in Bedminster and specialises in artisan muffins for events and festivals, said:
“I am absolutely ecstatic because these council grants will make such a difference to the lives of hundreds of small businesses like ourselves here and all over the country.
“We found ourselves falling through the cracks in the government council grants cash scheme and the support we have had from organisations like Business West has been tremendous.”
Fellow campaigner, Jacky Puzey, a specialist digital embroiderer with clients throughout the world, has her business at the Meriton Foundry in St Phillips, Bristol.
She said: “For my business, the grant will give me essential cover for the period when my audience of clients are in lockdown.
“We cannot thank Matt Griffith of Business West enough for all his help in helping us convince government of our case.”
And Matt Griffith, policy director of Business West commented:
“Entering the seventh week of the lockdown, small companies are now really up against it so this intervention by the government is very welcome following our lobbying.
“It’s pleasing that the government has listened to us and all these small businesses. Now, it is over to the councils to get this money to the small businesses here, some of which faced ruin without it.
“Workspaces are vital for many of our region’s smaller businesses, and a lot of them have suffered very big impacts from the crisis, so having some form of government support makes a huge difference in their ability to survive.”