As pubs, bars and restaurants welcome customers indoors for the first time since early January, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Cllr Graham Morgan, the Leader of Knowsley Council visited Poco Bar and Café in Prescot to speak with its co-owner Rich Sutton about the impact of Covid on his business and how emergency funding from the Combined Authority helped them to survive the last year of Covid restrictions.
The Combined Authority has provided a crucial £44 million lifeline to more than 4,000 businesses hit hard by the pandemic, through a range of grants delivered to businesses by the City Region’s six local authorities.
Initially targeted at hard-hit hospitality and retail businesses, the grants have also been available to all businesses that have seen a 40% cut in their sales or revenue. The Combined Authority has worked closely with local authorities, who have made sure the money has reached the businesses that need it.
Speaking about the visit Mayor Rotheram said: “I’m excited and moved to visit businesses opening fully for the first time in months who may not have made it without our support.
“We know how tough this last year has been for local businesses and, whilst we couldn’t help everyone, we have done everything we can to help support them through the pandemic, working hand in hand with our local councils.
“We have spent tens of millions of pounds supporting businesses and saving jobs so that now, as we start to return to normality, we still have an economy to rebuild. Like everyone else, it’s been months since I’ve been inside a pub, a café or a restaurant, so I cannot wait to visit some of the local businesses we’ve been able to support and hear about their plans for the future.”
Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council, said: “We have been working non-stop to support our local businesses, from making sure that they receive their grants swiftly to providing outdoor canopies to keep customers dry in the recent wet weather. Our town centres and our town centre businesses are the beating heart of Knowsley and will be so instrumental in our economic recovery. it’s fantastic to see businesses like Poco, getting back into their stride and welcoming more customers.”
Rich Sutton joint owner of Poco Bar and Café said: “The last year has been hugely challenging and would have been for any business. The financial support we have received from the Combined Authority was a real lifeline and one of the main reasons we are still here today. It’s great to be able to welcome customers inside again and we can’t wait to really get back to normal over the summer.”
The Leisure and Hospitality grant was just one of a number of funding lifelines available which been focused on supporting the retention of jobs and businesses in the city region. Local Business Support grants were made available to any business in any sector that had experienced a 40% loss of business, or more due to Covid-19.
The Taxi Grant scheme support provided funding support for LCR resident taxi drivers to continue operating despite downturn in the market. A small grant was provided for each taxi driver who was registered and resident in the City Region with a top up grant was launched in February of this year.
More recently the LCR Care Providers grant offered a vital lifeline to childcare and care home businesses to support them both through a fall in demand and the increased costs associated with creating covid-safe environments.
For more information about business grants visit the Knowsley Council website