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For the first time in its history, the City of London Corporation’s main decision-making body – the Court of Common Council – has convened virtually. Elected Members debated a number of key issues, including the City Corporation’s response to Covid-19, at the first meeting held remotely...

For the first time in its history, the City of London Corporation’s main decision-making body – the Court of Common Council – has convened virtually.

Elected Members debated a number of key issues, including the City Corporation’s response to Covid-19, at the first meeting held remotely instead of the usual location of Guildhall.

The history of the Court of Common Council can be traced back to the Oath of the Commune in 1193, which allowed the Mayor to summon citizens to assist in deciding civic matters.

It was first referred to as the Common Council in 1376 and assumed some legislative functions before the end of the fourteenth century.

Addressing the Court of Common Council, policy chair Catherine McGuinness highlighted how the organisation is working to support businesses, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), through the current pandemic.

Ms McGuinness said: “We are liaising constantly with both Central Government and business stakeholders to ensure that SMEs are getting the right support during this time.

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“For example, we have asked the Government to widen the number of businesses that qualify for rate relief and grants, including dentists, physiotherapists and barristers. We also want the rate relief thresholds reviewed, as they currently disadvantage SMEs in central London.

“In addition, we have supported pan-London lobbying efforts with the Mayor of London, London Councils and the various representative business groups to make sure the needs and priorities of SMEs are heard in Whitehall.

“Following the Government announcements on Small Business Grant Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Funds, the City Corporation has now directly paid out £14.5 million of the original £14.7 million allocation – that is, 98.6%.

“We have made 847 grant payments out of the original estimate of 900 or 94%. And we are continuing to process all grant payments within 48 hours of receipt of bank details.

“We have also been supporting SMEs in other ways too, including: through the fantastic work of the City Business Library, the property advice given by the City Property Advisory Team, the support for tenants at our wholesale markets, advocating the needs of SMEs to government, and through the specific advice offered to cultural and tourism sectors by our Cultural and Visitor Development Team.

“We will work hard for our SMEs. But sadly, we can only share – not shoulder – the burden.”

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