Stuart Anderson MP welcomes government investment to help address COVID-19

Stuart Anderson MP has welcomed further central government investment into Wolverhampton South West to help the City Council and local businesses respond to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

The funding will be channelled via the City of Wolverhampton Council. It will help the Council meet increased business demands, especially to social services – the arm of the Council that assists vulnerable adults and young people. The City Council will also receive an allocation from the Hardship Fund to deliver financial support, including council tax support, to help economically vulnerable constituents. In addition, the Council will be reimbursed for supporting eligible businesses across Wolverhampton.

This additional funding is further to the Local Government Finance Settlement, which was finalised in February. The settlement oversaw an increase of 6.4% in the Council’s core spending power, bringing it to £239.8 million. It is the biggest percentage increase in more than a decade.

Now, central government has allocated further funds to help the Council address increase in business demands, help residents pay their council tax bills, and support local businesses through grants, especially small and medium sized enterprises and those in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors.

  • Hardship Fund (Council Tax) – £3,272,264
  • Emergency Funding – £9,375,304.
  • Business Grant Allocations – £53,518,000.

Commenting, Stuart Anderson, the MP for Wolverhampton South West said: “I welcome the funding that central government has made available to the City Council and for eligible Wolverhampton businesses. The local authority emergency funding is not ringfenced and means that the Council can use it to meet new and increased business demands – including on social care. Money from the Hardship Fund could also be used to help residents pay their Council Tax bills. I have been in contact with the Chief Executive of the City Council to offer my assistance during COVID-19.

“The grant allocations for Wolverhampton’s smallest businesses and those in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors will help hundreds of shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, and boarding premises.

“These are undeniably very challenging times for our communities, so I welcome this additional funding that central government has made available. I would also like to take this opportunity to remind constituents that my staff are still working hard for all Wolverhampton South West on every issue. They can contact us by email at stuart.anderson.mp@parliament.uk or via telephone at 01902 680549.”

Unveiling the unprecedented package of financial support in a statement on 17th March, the Chancellor of the Exchequer the Rt. Hon Rishi Sunak said: “I promised to do whatever it takes to support our economy through this crisis – and that if the situation changed, I would not hesitate to take further action.

"This struggle will not be overcome by a single package of measures, or isolated interventions. It will be won through a collective national effort. Every one of us, doing all we can to protect families, neighbours, friends, jobs.

"This national effort will be underpinned by government interventions in the economy on a scale unimaginable only a few weeks ago. This is not a time for ideology and orthodoxy. This is a time to be bold. A time for courage.”

Local Authority Emergency Funding

On 19 March 2020, the government announced £1.6 billion of additional funding for local government to help them respond to coronavirus (COVID-19) pressures across all the services they deliver.

Local authorities are best placed to understand what the service pressures and spending needs are in their local area, so this funding will not be ringfenced and can be allocated to Covid-19 pressures in whatever way individual authorities feel is appropriate to their pressures. The £1.6bn additional funding has been distributed using two mechanisms: £1.39bn has been distributed using the existing Adults Social Care Relative Needs Formula; £0.21bn has been distributed via authorities’ share of 2013/14 Settlement Funding Assessment or overall relative needs.  This is the basis on which the Government has recently distributed several pots of funding to authorities, including the recently announced distribution of the 2019/20 business rates retention levy surplus.

Grant Funding Schemes (Small Business Grant Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund)

These business grant schemes were announced at Budget on 11 March 2020, and the level of funding was increased in a statement from the Chancellor on 17 March 2020.

Under the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) all businesses in England in receipt of either Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rates Relief (RRR) in the business rates system will be eligible for a payment of £10,000. 

Under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG), businesses in England that would have been in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) on 11 March with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for the following cash grants per property.

  • Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to and including £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000, in line with the eligibility criteria.
  • Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.

The Government will reimburse Local Authorities that pay grants to eligible businesses. Central government will fully reimburse Local Authorities for the cost of the grant (using a grant under section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003). Local Authorities will be responsible for delivering the funding to eligible businesses. 

Council Tax: COVID-19 Hardship Fund 2020 to 2021

As part of its response to COVID-19, the Government announced in the Budget on 11 March that it would provide local authorities in England with £500m of new grant funding to support economically vulnerable people and households in their local area. The expectation is that most of the hardship fund will be used to provide council tax relief, alongside existing local council tax support schemes. This funding is distinct from the £5bn COVID-19 response fund to support public services.