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Council support for small businesses

City of York Council has released details of further support for York businesses, including its £1m scheme to help York’s small and micro businesses who are set to miss out on government support.

City of York Council’s micro business grants scheme will deliver grants of up to £1,000 to 1,000 self-employed, micro and small businesses who need it most. 

Applications for the grants will open before Easter, and will be available to businesses which:

  • have 50 or fewer employees, including one person business/self-employed;
  • need support adapting to new trading arrangements;
  • are experiencing financial hardship due to coronavirus, and
  • do not qualify for any other government grant or rate relief support packages.

In addition, the council has created a new fund to give up to 1000 businesses free membership of the Federation of Small Business. Also set to launch before Easter, these will be available to businesses with 30 or fewer employees. This will give each business access to a range of services, covering everything from legal and advice to cyber protection and insurance.

Councillor Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, said:

“We are continuing to work with York BID and Make it York to support our local businesses so they can secure cashflow, adapt to the current crisis and protect jobs.

“We have successfully lobbied the government to increase support for our 12,000 self-employed residents, deferred rent on all our commercial properties and acted quickly to make sure £110m reaches businesses as soon as possible.

“Business rates holidays have been applied to over 3000 accounts, and the first batch of £44m coronavirus grants set to benefit 3500 York companies will be paid early next week.

“But there are many businesses who don’t qualify for that support, so I would urge them all to look at our scheme and prepare for applications to open next week.”

Grants will be issued to the first 1,000 businesses which meet the criteria, so businesses are advised to prepare evidence in advance.

Councillor Andrew Waller, executive member for the economy and strategic planning, said:

“York’s small, micro and one-person businesses are a vital part of our economy, worth £1bn and employing thousands of people. Not all have been reached by Government packages.

“These local grants and FSB membership will offer well over 1,000 businesses the help to do what they do best – innovate, adapt and reach customers with their fantastic products. This could be anything from adjusting their business plans to the implications of starting up online services as businesses will be working in different ways now.

“We will award the grants to the first 1000 eligible businesses that apply, so do think in advance about the evidence we’ll need.

“We’re also backing campaigns in the local media to connect those businesses which can still operate to customers across York. For details of free advertising with a massive reach, and all other business support in the city, visit to see what is available to them.”

 The council will open an online application form, which will require company details, an outline of what the grant is needed for and the following evidence to demonstrate eligibility:

  1. proof of hardship and ineligibility for other schemes
    • for self-employed applicants: Business must have a Unique Tax Reference Number UTRN from HRMC with retrospective check
    • Registered business – must provide Company Number, or details from other registration schemes
  2. Evidence that the business is trading, for example adverts, web site or accounts

The council will contact businesses to review the effectiveness of grants and collect evidence of the impact of funding. 

The council has negotiated a deal which will allow 1,000 one person businesses, or 500 ten person businesses to join and access the free helpline for business advice.

Carolyn Frank, Development Manager North Yorkshire, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“We are seeing more demand than ever for our services as small businesses and the self-employed find themselves needing advice and guidance, financial support and a powerful collective voice with government.

“We are very grateful to City of York Council for funding free FSB memberships for microbusinesses from their emergency funding, which is helping us reach even more businesses in York with specialist 1-2-1 advice and support.

“Our benefits in higher than normal demand due to the emergency situation include employment advice and protection, legal helpline and documents hub, FSB care medical advice line, cyber protection checks, FSB funding platform and cash advance and insurance services. 

“I’d encourage businesses to apply quickly to take advantage of this special scheme, because it is strictly limited to first come, first served. Of course businesses who miss out on the free scheme can still ask for our help, we have many free resources and a full priced membership starts from only £147 a year.”

Supporting local businesses

Want to know which of your favourite products and services are still available or are you one of the York businesses still allowed to trade and could benefit from free advertising?

If so, help is at hand from local media in a variety of ways:

  • Join the Connected York app – just download it from your app store
    (Please note this is a new product and City of York Council are not affiliated with the app)

Road works planned for St Helens Road

Signs have gone up announcing that St Helens Road will be closed from Tuesday 7th April for three days.

The council’s Streetworks teams have advised that the closure will allow remedial works to be done to the road surface after problems arose following Northern Powergrid works undertaken late last year.

The 3-way lights at the junction with Tadcaster Road will be turned off and a temporary pedestrian crossing will be in place.

Call to ‘Unite and Protect’ our local hospice

St Leonard’s Hospice, located on Tadcaster Road, is calling on residents to support efforts to maintain its valuable services during these unprecedented times.

The Hospice has issued the following appeal:

“At this time of great national concern, we hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe. In terms of St Leonard’s Hospice, we can assure you that we are following NHS guidance and have put strict measures in place to protect our patients, visitors and staff.

The need for the care we deliver has never been greater
We know that in the coming weeks and months, our services will be more in demand than ever as we support the NHS to ensure that only those patients who specifically need hospital care are admitted and remain in hospital beds. 

As well as protecting patients, staff and visitors, we must also consider the financial impact of COVID-19 on the Hospice
Fundraising events scheduled to take place over the coming months have been postponed and our shops have all been closed as we follow. Government guidance on social distancing. Please see our FAQs which may be useful if you have been planning to attend any of these events.

If you can, we are asking you to please unite behind your Hospice today
At this time of increased need and reduced income, please unite behind your local Hospice, so our fantastic staff can care for everyone that needs us. I know that we all have financial concerns at the moment, but we’ve been truly humbled by the urge people have to help each other at this time. That’s why we’ll be launching a number of new ways for everyone to get involved in supporting St Leonard’s Hospice.

Most importantly, we want to make sure you know that St Leonard’s Hospice is here for you
Whether it’s providing activities for kids to do whilst schools are closed, or virtual challenges to create a sense of community to replace the events we can’t host in person, we will be doing all we can to support you.

We are enormously proud of our community, and of the tireless work our staff are still undertaking every day. We are currently working hard to ensure that we can continue to provide the care needed by our patients and their families, not only during the current crisis but long into the future as well. We truly hope you’ll join us in any way you can.

St Leonard’s Hospice has been part of your local community for 35 years and, with your support, we will be here for the next 35 and beyond. We need you now more than ever. You can give now by making a donation online, sending a cheque to St Leonard’s Hospice, 185 Tadcaster Road, YO24 1GL or calling 01904 777 777 – but please bear with our Fundraising Team as they are currently working remotely. 

Thank you for your understanding and continued support.”

Library services move online

If you are confused or overwhelmed by the huge amount of information on offer, York’s Explore library service can help.

They are making it easy for people to find information and advice as well as inspiration as we all deal with the Coronavirus crisis. Explore website has all sorts of useful links to help people cope during the coming weeks; some sites have always been part of their online offer, and some are brand new.

Explore is also working with City of York Council and other partners in York so that communities can join together.

Organisations across the country are developing their online services in this challenging time. Explore is are using its expertise to gather together the best offers and add them to the lists of sites they recommend.

They will also be developing some online activities – including a Virtual Book Group. Their website will be updated regularly as these new things come on stream and sharing on social media using #LibrariesFromHome

Everything is free to access – all you need is a library card. You can get a card online and start using it immediately.

Delay to re-start of garden waste collections

To ensure City of York Council can maintain frontline services, including household waste collections, and to protect frontline crews from unnecessary risk, immediate changes will be made to garden waste collections.

The council will be postponing the start of garden waste collections from April, in order to ensure household waste and recycling collections are given priority. These steps are being taken because of extraordinary pressures on frontline services during the outbreak of Covid-19 and a significantly reduced workforce. This decision will free up more frontline crews and vehicles to focus on collecting recycling and household waste in a safe way for frontline staff.

The situation will be kept under constant review, with a view to resuming garden waste collections as soon as practically possible.

Instead, the council is encouraging residents to compost their garden waste at home, and to support residents in this effort, advice and tips for easy composting at home is available on the council website HERE and on the Royal Horticultural Society website HERE.

Whilst collecting household waste is an essential service for public health reasons (a service provided under a public health act), collecting garden waste is not classed as such. Garden waste can be safely composted in the garden where it comes from.

Cllr Paula Widdowson, Executive Member for Environment & Climate Change, said: “This isn’t a decision we’ve taken lightly and this doesn’t mean we don’t want residents to garden. In some cases, this is more important than ever to keep active – particularly when self-isolating.

“We are encouraging residents to recycle and compost where possible and to support this, we have published advice for easy composting at home. If you’re unable to compost, then we’re asking residents to store their garden waste when possible, and we will collect it at a later date.”

Bolstering frontline services:

The council has reallocated resources from other teams, so that it can continue collecting household waste (black bins) and recycling boxes.
This includes redeploying staff from other services such as public realm and highways. The council is also working hard to increase its staff resource, including training a number of First and Pullman bus drivers, plus processing the applications made in response to the council’s urgent recruitment to support the refuse collection service.

Without green waste collections proceeding, additional vehicles will be made available to enable waste crews to socially distance, whilst collecting waste and recycling. Other measures are also being taken to support our waste crews, including wearing appropriate PPE based on the advice of Public Health. This also includes being issued with wipes, hand gel and new gloves every day. At this stage, face masks have not been issued, as per public health advice.

Portal goes live for business support applications

An online application portal is now up and running for businesses to use to apply for grant funding.

There have been announcements made over recent days about support available to businesses that have been impacted by the Covid-19 restrictions.

City of York Council has brought together a lot of relevant information for businesses on its website HERE

Two of the grants that are available are the Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant. To qualify for these grants, businesses must have been liable for the business rates on their property on 11 March 2020 and have an entitlement to the Expanded Retail Discount.

Full details of the grants, along with an online application form, are available on the council website HERE