Brentwood Borough Council has paid out £770,000 to 121 local businesses from its Discretionary Fund

Great news from Brentwood Borough Council  - well done to all those who have done such a superb job in making sure local businesses get the support they need to see them through the hardest times of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

"Brentwood Borough Council has awarded £770k this week in discretionary grants to 121 local businesses, as part of the government's COVID-19 economic support packages.  The Council has been able to distribute the maximum award level for micro businesses (£5k) and small businesses (£10k).

The government asked councils to prioritise businesses working from shared offices, bed and breakfast premises which pay council tax instead of rates, market traders who do not have their own rates assessments and charity properties in receipt of charitable rates relief which otherwise would have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief.

Holli Henderson started Essential Beauty Company in 2012 in 2019 she took over the whole salon at DW Fitness in Warley and built up regular clientele. She said;  “Covid-19 basically gave me five hours notice that my business that I have worked so hard on for eight years was gone. I thought at first it might be a three week lockdown but it has ended up being three months and we are going to be among the last to reopen. Just before lockdown I had tickets for the professional beauty show at the Excel in London and I was planning to buy a laser machine. It had been in the planning stage for about 12 months and I was waiting for the show as you can get some good deals on equipment there. Well the Excel ended up being an hospital and my plans have been put on hold as I need to focus just getting the business up and running again.  The added cost of PPE and the ordering I have had to do to get ready is a lot extra. We just need to get back in and book the clients in and get back to some sort of normal. I was not entitled to the first grant as it was for shops that pay rates but because I rent from the gym and it pays the rates the gym was entitled to the grant. So things have been incredibly tight! The grant will enable me to get the business back on its feet much more quickly. I have had to use all my savings to keep afloat so this will be a lifeline for my business. I don’t know what I would do without it. The clients have been great and they are looking forward to coming back. And catching up! I did not even take 3 months off when I had a newborn baby”

Lee Gelderbloem, has also benefited from a grant from the Discretionary Fund as he runs the Brentwood Blinds stall on the High Street. Due to recent shop closures he is now the only blinds supplier in the town centre. Despite not being able trade during lockdown, he still has had fixed property-related outgoings linked to a commercial storage unit he rents.  Lee said: “This discretionary grant could actually save my company. I have a great relationship with my clients, many of whom are elderly and on limited budgets.  I really look forward to seeing them again as soon as the government guidance allows.  I hope that people will continue to support the high street and come back to visit the market, now that we are able to open again.”

Brentwood Borough Council Leader, Cllr Chris Hossack said; “So far we have distributed £15.5m through the Small Business Grant Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund and now a further £770k with this new Brentwood Discretionary Business Grant Fund. This money is clearly vital to our local economy and our businesses that have worked so hard to establish themselves and now through no fault of their own face unprecedented challenges. We all know that there has never been a time like this with society shutting down so quickly but we have turned a corner and I am delighted that the non-essential retailers can open from Monday and that businesses like Holli’s and Lee’s and charities like Aching Arms have got the helping hand they need to get them back on their feet.”

Aching Arms charity’s Leanne Turner [pictured] added, “Our little charity hub is in Warley. It may look small, but like Aching Arms, it has a hidden depth and a generous heart.  From here, we reach out to over 5000 families each year who have sadly experienced the loss a baby during pregnancy, birth or soon after.  Covid-19 has significantly disrupted our annual Forget Me Not Tea Party fundraising, we expected to raise around £30,000 this year, but due to social distancing guidelines, tea parties have not gone ahead. This £5000 grant will enable us to continue to offer our support to NHS midwives and bereaved parents who are feeling more isolated than ever before.  Our charity has big dreams and post Covid19, whilst continuing our passion to support parents, we also plan to resume our workplace training programme so that bereaved parents feel better supported by their employer, colleagues and friends at work. Thank you Brentwood Council for this much needed funding.”