SUPPORT for businesses during the Covid crisis ‘was a lifeline’ says MP Bill Esterson.
The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority distributed more than £44m in emergency funds to more than 4,000 businesses, providing £3m via a Future Innovation Fund and paid out more than £2.5m through LCR Cares.
A number of schemes were set up and delivered at high speed alongside support from local authorities. Sefton Council paid out grants totalling £97.7m and Sefton businesses have saved more than £60m through business rates discounts.
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram secured extra funding from the government when the city region was first put into Tier Three restrictions in October 2020. A number of other specific financial support measures were introduced:
• £5m to support businesses to access national government funds and improve the survival rate of LCR businesses
• Increased flexibility for local authorities to use the £6m Town Centres Fund to support local high street recovery
• £400,000 to support micro-businesses and SMEs in the cultural sector.
• A £3m Future Innovation Fund Pilot programme to support Liverpool City Region’s small and medium sized enterprise (SME) community, to incentivise them to innovate, adapt and diversify in response to the pandemic.
LCR Cares was a unique crowdfunding campaign to support community organisations that were working to support their neighbours through the pandemic.
The £2.5m fund was distributed to more than 300 local groups and charities providing services such as food deliveries, activities for children, and provision of PPE to care homes.
Bill Esterson, MP for Sefton Central, said: “The local support that was on offer for businesses in our region was a lifeline during the pandemic and I am sure it kept many firms in business and saved thousands of jobs.
“It was a huge challenge and our local authorities and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority rose to the challenge and showed what good can be done when power is in local hands rather than dictated from central government.
“The Metro Mayor has now launched his £150m Covid Recovery Fund which is the largest package of business support the region has seen in many years.”
In August 2020, the Combined Authority published Build Back Better - an ambitious economic recovery plan for the whole of the city region, supported by leading figures from the worlds of business, academia, the social economy, the public sector and trades unions.
The plan, submitted to central government, set out how £1.4 billion in investment could unlock £8.8 billion of projects to begin in the next 12 months, creating 94,000 permanent jobs, with a further 28,000 jobs in construction.