“We now have a plan,” one local business owner told us after it was given vital funding to help it cope with the COVID-19 emergency.
While the coronavirus pandemic has affected us all in some way, for businesses the impact may be felt long after the lockdown has been lifted and the economic recovery begins to take effect.
To help minimise the hardship for local business, Ealing Council’s business rates team has been working round the clock to issue £68.2million in business rate relief and grants it was awarded as part of the government’s support for small businesses.
‘Nothing is normal now’
Braybrook and Britten is an independent online silversmith jewellers and was one of more than 4,822 businesses to receive the vital funding. It has been based in Ealing for the last 25 years.
Speaking of the impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on its business, John Langford, co-director of the company, said: “This is certainly the most sudden slowdown we’ve experienced, and the problem is it turned off everything very quickly.
“We have done a ‘normal’ recession. We know what the drill is. But what is scary is that nothing is normal now.
“We are seeing 30% of the business that we would expect to see at this time of year.”
Putting it more starkly, he added: “To break-even on average we need to take £1,200 a day but we are now taking between £60 and £70 a day.
“When we found out that we had got the 100% rate relief it was a godsend,” continued John. “The rate relief will help because firms like us don’t run with a lot of fat around us, and it now stops quite so much cash having to be spent.
“We also received a £25,000 grant which will provide us with a source to pay salaries. If Ealing Council hadn’t moved so quickly there was no way that we could have paid our staff.”
‘Everything has ground to a halt’
The company works with UK and European manufacturers and small-scale creatives that design and produce a range of silverware, glassware and jewellery. It designs many of the pieces it sells itself, in partnership with the manufacturers. For many companies in its supply chain, jeweller Braybrook and Britten sells a significant proportion of their production.
John said: “In the short-term, everything has ground to a halt. But, in the long-term, we will experience problems with raw materials and manufacturers. One workshop has already gone into receivership.”
The family business has had to furlough its three staff and is operating on a greatly reduced level. However, it has been able to benefit from the government’s job retention scheme and business rate relief and grants.
“I was impressed that the government and everyone else recognised the scale of the problem and acted so quickly,” John said. “When we sent off our email to the council we didn’t have a lot of hope but we are grateful that people responded in such a positive way.”
As a result of the financial aid provided via the council, John said: “We now have a plan – we can get ourselves through to October and the busy Christmas period.”
Have you received funding?
All eligible businesses should have received the funding they were entitled to by Tuesday, 5 May, 2020. Businesses are reminded to the check their bank accounts and post, including their business premises, for funding from the council before contacting the business rates team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 8825 7020.
In addition to the government funding, Ealing Council has set up its own £1.5million COVID-19 Emergency Fund to ensure that there is financial support available to businesses, community organisations and residents. The fund includes additional relief for registered nursery providers, funding for vital community services and additional support for the council’s existing financial support for residents.
For more information visit the council’s coronavirus webpages, including the Help for Business section for the latest links to funding, advice and guidance for businesses.