£21.3 billion in COVID-19 support grants for SMEs

Smaller businesses across the whole of England received £21.3 billion through the government’s COVID-19 Local Authority Business Support Grants scheme, a new report has shown. Micro, small, and medium sized firms across different business sectors benefited from the funds available under the scheme, which was created to support businesses during and to recover from the impact of the global pandemic.

The new data – which includes a sector breakdown for the first time – shows over one-third of all available funding was allocated to the accommodation and food services sector, a part of the economy hit hardest by the pandemic. The grant scheme was created by the UK government and administered by local authorities, with all regions in England found to have allocated most of their total available funds to businesses in need.

Small Business Minister Jane Hunt said: Our amazing small businesses are the backbone of our economy and their efforts both during and since the pandemic have been heroic. In many cases, Local Authority Business Support Grants were essential to businesses who found themselves really struggling and who are now able to recover, grow, and look to the future. By putting billions of pounds into business recovery, we have stood by our commitment to our small businesses and the communities, families, and livelihoods they form a key part of.”

Data shows the accommodation and food services sector received the most funding. Businesses in this sector have also seen significant support from the government’s Hospitality Strategy, published in July 2021. Firms operating in wholesale retail, arts and entertainment, recreation, and other services industries were also among the different business sectors to receive substantial help under the scheme. A full breakdown of allocations is below.

Sector                                  Percentage of funds                            Value of funds

Accommodation and Food Services             36%                                      £8.2 bn
Other Services*                                        19%                                      £4.3 bn
Wholesale and Retail Trade                        16%                                      £3.5 bn
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation            14%                                      £3.2 bn
Transportation and Storage                        10%                                     £2.2 bn
Manufacturing                                             1%                                    £0.2 bn
All other sectors                                          4%                                    £0.9 bn

*Other Services includes the activities of membership organisations, the repair of personal and household goods and a variety of personal service activities not covered elsewhere in classifications.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

Small businesses and others have also been supported through initiatives including the government’s Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS), which has backed almost 19,000 firms with average support of £202,0000 each, as well as the increase in Employment Allowance, slashing of fuel duty, and the introduction of business rates relief for high street businesses. The government remains committed to supporting small businesses, and firms of all sizes, as they recover from the impact of COVID-19 and prepare themselves for a bright, prosperous, and innovative future.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024