A new round of grants for Covid-hit businesses in Bexley have been made available, whilst Greenwich has made up to £3 million in grants available as 'life rafts' for the local hospitality industry.

The end may finally be in sight, but the past 12 months have hit local businesses hard and many have made large losses or have even been forced to close.

To help them survive until normal service resumes, Bexley has announced that local businesses severely affected by the pandemic can apply for a new round of Additional Restriction Grants.

The ARG is a non-repayable grant that has been set up by Bexley with the support of the Government to help local businesses that are not covered by other grant schemes or where additional funding is needed.

The scheme has been refined to better fit Bexley’s economy and to increase the amount of financial support available to local business owners, but come from central government.

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Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Growth, Cllr Louie French said: "Our experience and the feedback that we have received over the last few months has proved that not all businesses neatly fit into set categories on a form.

“This new round of the ARG has been designed to be more flexible for local businesses, allowing them to apply for the support they need to keep going and for our local economy to recover.

“If you previously looked at the grant and believed that couldn’t apply, please look again. We are listening and working hard to help you."

In addition, one-off support payments of £1,00 for those in Bexley who hold a Special Treatment License have been introduced. This is to assist these businesses with unavoidable regulatory costs while being forced to close.

In Greenwich, the council have released similar ring-fenced grants called the Hospitality Recovery Grant, but available specifically for pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes and hotels.

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They say they are backing their hospitality sector with up to £3 million, available in grants of £10,000, £15,000 or £25,000 for businesses whose core business is serving customers seated to eat and drink in their premises.

The local authority say they have already helped 500 businesses across a range of sectors with £2.7 million worth of Additional Restrictions Grants administered on behalf of the Government since last November.

These have been helping closed businesses that didn’t qualify for other grant schemes or businesses that can remain open but have been adversely impacted by the national restrictions.

Across all grant schemes being managed by the Council, 6,500 grant payments have already been made to businesses totalling over £13.8 million.

Cllr Danny Thorpe, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, said: "Pubs, restaurants and hotels are an integral part of the identity and economy of our borough.

"They bring life and a vibrancy to our local high streets and can make a place a must visit destination as well as being major employers and helping keep our economy afloat.

"When we have come so far, and are beginning to see things improve, now is not the time to stand by and let them wither.

"When we can meet each other again we’ll want to eat, drink and laugh in our favourite café, restaurant or pub - so we have to ensure they’ll still exist then.”

Lesley and Keith Tuckley, landlady and landlord of The Earl of Chatham, a pub in Woolwich, said: "The Royal Borough of Greenwich has been really helpful – in fact they haven’t been able to do enough to help us as small business owners.

"The Hospitality Recovery Grant will make such a difference and we can’t wait until we can re-open and welcome back our customers.”

Better Body Group, personal trainers based in Blackheath, received a business grant through a previous scheme.

Their boss Alison Crow said: "Myself and our clients would like to say a really huge thank you for the grant money we received, it hopefully means we can hang on in there.

"As we have the sports field to use, our clients who would have no other contact with others during this period who do experience mental challenges in normal life are still able to come along and keep moving. This really does make the world of difference and is very much appreciated.”

To ensure that the limited funding helps as many distinct businesses as possible, businesses with common directors but multiple sites in the borough will only be eligible for a single grant.