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The Square Mile's City Hall representative, Unmesh Desai, is calling on City of London residents to shop local in the run-up to Christmas. Mr Desai said that a “community-wide effort is needed” to support small businesses on local high streets and in town centres, as further...

The Square Mile’s City Hall representative, Unmesh Desai, is calling on City of London residents to shop local in the run-up to Christmas.

Mr Desai said that a “community-wide effort is needed” to support small businesses on local high streets and in town centres, as further Covid-19 restrictions come into force across the capital.

His calls come in the wake of London being named the worst-performing region, in terms of people returning to high-street shops, by Centre for Cities.

According to a survey conducted by Simply Business, small businesses had, on average, lost over £17,000 in only the first three months of lockdown.

Last week, the Chancellor announced his Winter Economy Plan with a new Jobs Support Scheme, which amongst other measures will provide businesses with a longer period to pay bounce-back loans.

From City Hall, the Mayor recently launched a £1million Resilience Fund to aid some of the most at-risk businesses in the capital, in the wake of the pandemic and Brexit.

Through the Fund, small businesses can bid for up to £30,000 in grants, to support projects developing solutions to the environmental and economic challenges that London faces.

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This comes on top of a separate £1million Back to Business Fund, which offers up to £5,000 in match-funding for struggling small and independent firms.

City Hall’s ‘Pay it Forward’ scheme, launched during the start of lockdown, has also raised thousands for businesses and projects in London forced to temporarily close or pause their operations, as a result of the pandemic.

Businesses and venues can still sign-up to the Pay It Forward online platform and set up a crowdfunding scheme – at no cost.

Mr Desai said:“It is only right that restrictions are being tightened at a time when Covid-19 cases are beginning to rise at a concerning rate.

“At the same time, we can’t forget that this could deal another significant blow for small businesses in our Borough. The impact has been huge so far.

“As we stay closer to home, a community-wide effort is needed to give our struggling local high streets and town centres the boost they need to get through the winter.

“For those unable to get to the shops at the moment, this can also be done remotely through City Hall’s ‘Pay it Forward’ crowdfunding scheme.”

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