Many businesses that are so essential to the energy and vibrancy of the Square Mile will be reopening their doors to residents, workers and visitors.
This is a much-needed return to a semblance of normality after a long and difficult winter. Large parts of the City have adapted remarkably well to working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic but those businesses – many of them SMEs – that rely on footfall have faced exceptionally difficult trading conditions over the past year.
The City of London Corporation is committed to supporting Square Mile businesses during these tough times. This has included providing help to our tenants as well as paying out grants and other financial support made available by Government as quickly as possible.
We are now launching a new Covid Business Recovery Fund to help underpin the Square Mile’s economic recovery and ensure viable SMEs can get back on their feet.
The scheme is designed to support SME businesses which contribute to the Square Mile’s vibrancy at street level and directly provide services to people that live, work and visit the City.
It aims to help those businesses in either the retail, hospitality, medical or leisure sectors that can prove, through the grant application process, they have a reasonable chance to survive beyond the short-term with support.
Applications are now open and will be accepted until 11 June. Businesses can find further information and apply here. The City Business Library will provide support to any applicants unsure how to use the portal.
As part of the process, small businesses that directly interact with the public – such as cafés, pubs or hairdressers – will be required to register with the Covid Compliant Accreditation Scheme (CCAS) if they have not done so already. The CCAS is aimed at supporting businesses in their reopening by reassuring customers that they have systems in place to minimise risks associated with coronavirus and that their premises are safe to visit.
The launch of this new fund and reopening of parts of our economy are important stepping-stones towards the City returning to something like its usual buzz.
In order to get fully back to normal, however, it is vital that employers can bring workers back to the office safely. Greater clarity on this issue is needed from the Government as part of its roadmap so that businesses can plan accordingly, which is why we are eagerly awaiting a review due in the next few weeks.
We fully believe that the bulk of workers are keen to return to the Square Mile, even if the way that they use their offices may change. Senior City leaders are rightly all considering future ways of working but they continue to reiterate their commitment to central London office space in their discussions with us.
The vibrancy of our unique ecosystem relies on each part of the City community –multinational businesses to domestic SMEs, local residents to international workers – working in partnership. Together we can bring back the buzz of life in the Square Mile.