Somerset County Council is launching the Somerset Economic Recovery Fund to help businesses across the county get back on their feet after the pandemic, where businesses which have been hit by the coronavirus will be able to apply for a share of £6m in grants from July.
The fund was formally approved at a meeting of the council’s cabinet on Monday morning (June 21).
The fund is designed to help the county’s economy bounce back, with aid being provided for sectors which have been particularly hard-hit or not sufficiently supported during the earlier stages of the national crisis.
Cllr David Hall, cabinet member for economic development, planning and community infrastructure at County Hall, said: “We’re investing in public health, adults’ and children’s services, but we also have to recognise the enormous importance of our economy which has taken a huge hit over the past 18 months.”
“That’s why we’re promising £6million to help Somerset prosper. We’ll be providing funds for tourism, hospitality and high streets, we’ll be helping new businesses grow and we’ll be creating much-needed jobs for our residents.”
The funding will include:
Financial support for businesses – assistance for the recovery and growth of businesses in Somerset, focussing on those which have not been eligible for assistance from Government’s schemes;
Financial support for individuals – assistance for self-employed people who have not been eligible for assistance from Government’s schemes and for less advantaged individuals with costs associated with job search and returning to work;
Business start, restart and recovery – providing business start-ups with support, offering targeted support to hard hit sectors and support for local buying;
Stimulating the economy – investment in strategic actions to drive longer term recovery, clean and inclusive growth and levelling up in Somerset.
Paul Hickson, the council’s strategic commissioning manager for the economy and planning, said it was important that businesses had ongoing support to prevent large amounts of job losses: “We are seeing challenges with recruitment and people not wanting to return to sectors in which they were employed before the pandemic. We will be looking to roll out the measures in the fund in a sequence.”
“We will be looking to launch initial measures in July and following it up in the autumn as well”
“We will be working with business organisations to leverage their networks and communicate with their members and stakeholders.”