More than £1 billion given to Coventry and Warkwickshire businesses during pandemic

Coventry

More than £1 billion of Government loans and grants has been distributed to businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire during the pandemic, a new report has revealed.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub’s latest SmartRegion report collected data in March from its business engagements as well as statistics and information from Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council, the CWLEP and other organisations.

It shows that in Coventry and Warwickshire, by January 2021, there were 18,600 Business Bounce Bank Loans offered with a value of £554 million, and almost 1,100 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) loans of £274 million, totalling £828.2 million for both programmes.

Local councils have supported SMEs in the area from the start of the pandemic through £18.5 million of Local Restrictions Support Grants, and £171 million from Local Authority Discretionary Grant Funding, the Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail Hospitality and Leisure Business Grant Fund, which all closed last August.

New data also shows the cumulative number of people who have been on furlough since the start of the pandemic.

A total of 160,300 jobs in Coventry and Warwickshire have been furloughed at some point with the highest proportion being in Stratford (41.3 per cent) compared to the national average of 37 per cent.

The latest figures reveal that 13.2 per cent of workers were furloughed in Coventry and Warwickshire at the end of February 2021.

In February 2021, the number of people claiming unemployment related benefits in Coventry and Warwickshire totalled 34,310 compared to 14,900 the previous February.

Craig Humphrey, managing director of the CWLEP Growth Hub, said the spotlight on the impact of Covid-19 on the last 12 months on Coventry and Warwickshire’s economy in the SmartRegion report made sobering reading.

He said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, every month – and it was every week at the start of the crisis – we have assessed the main impacts on our local economy as they emerged in Coventry and Warwickshire.

“The amount of funding distributed via the Government’s loans and grants is just over £1 billion in Coventry and Warwickshire which is a staggering amount.

“It underlines the demand from businesses whatever their size or sector as owners needed financial assistance to try to stay afloat during the three national lockdowns.

“Just as in every other part of the country, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been critical in supporting the local labour market throughout the past year because without the Government’s intervention, unemployment rates would be much higher.

“We are all expecting to see unemployment rise as furlough comes to an end in September and that is when all the business support organisations in the area will, as always, work together to help as many people as possible.

“The CW Employment Solutions website which was launched to assist with combating rising unemployment levels across the area is proving a much-needed source of help. Employers, recruiters, job seekers and education leavers are connecting, finding jobs, posting vacancies and accessing the support measures that have been implemented across the region.

“We will continue to highlight what is happening in different parts of our local economy as we move to the next phase of the pandemic as well as look at the different impacts of the evolving landscape following the UK’s exit from the EU and Single Market to flex our business support offerings where we can in order to address these needs.”