More than £750,000 raised to help 300 businesses stay afloat during the pandemic
Sadiq allocates £200,000 from his Back To Business Fund
Bakeries, music venues, pottery studios, historical walking tours and cafes are among the hundreds of small businesses across the capital which are being kept afloat by an innovative support scheme launched by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
According to new figures, Londoners have demonstrated how much they value their independent local businesses by making more than 11,000 contributions through Pay It Forward London – so far raising in excess of £750,000 to help more than 300 businesses.
The Mayor launched the scheme in April, at the height of the pandemic, which allows Londoners to support small businesses currently affected by the pandemic, in exchange for goods or services which can be delivered once they are able to return to normal or near-normal operation.
Following on the success of the scheme, in July Sadiq launched his £1 million Back To Business Fund, which matches funds raised through Pay it Forward London to help small businesses adapt during the pandemic. This is helping companies invest in developing their online presence and training their staff in digital marketing, for example, or physical measures such as Perspex screens and contactless payment systems to enable socially distanced trading.
Each business is eligible for match-funding of up to £5,000 from the Mayor: so far more than 200 businesses have applied and in excess of £200,000 has been allocated through the Back To Business Fund. The money allocated has also been leveraged to generate an additional £450,000 in investment for affected businesses.
Businesses already being hit by the impact of further restrictions face a number of other challenges in the coming weeks and months. This includes the end of the business rates holiday in March – which will see many businesses again paying rates while their revenue remains far below pre-pandemic levels – as well as the end of the Government’s furlough scheme, which has prompted fears of even more Londoners losing their jobs.
When elected Sadiq promised to be the most pro-business Mayor that London has ever had and these schemes are part of a wider package of measures. Last month he launched his expanded London Business Hub, which offers a range of tailored support to help businesses in all sectors adapt to the challenges of the pandemic as well as prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m so proud we have already helped so many small businesses across our city through the hugely difficult recent months. The amount of support Londoners have shown so far is nothing short of fantastic.
“The Covid-19 pandemic will have far-reaching and long-lasting effects on our economy – so I’m urging any small business which hasn’t yet taken advantage of this support to do so. And I also hope all Londoners will consider how they can play their part in helping their independent, local businesses through these challenging times.
“Over the coming months, financial support for businesses in hospitality, retail, leisure and culture will be even more important. The Government needs to step up and provide a proper, targeted package of support for business which will be unable to continue trading through further periods of social distancing and restrictions.”
Chief Executive of the Night Time Industries Association, Michael Kill, said: “There are many small and medium-sized independent businesses within the night time economy, where schemes like this can help keep them going while they are operating at reduced capacity or remain closed.
“The level of public support for London businesses within the sector has been significant and further validates the value of these businesses within communities across London.”
Rob Love, CEO of Crowdfunder, Rob Love, said: “I am extremely humbled to see the incredible support that Londoners have pledged towards the hundreds of businesses who are crowdfunding on Pay it Forward London. Small businesses have been extremely resilient and adapted the way they trade to get through this crisis.
“It has and continues to be a very challenging time for businesses but they have called on the power of the crowd to help. This, along with match-funding from the Mayor, gives them vital funds to help see them through these difficult times.”
Hausof is a furniture and ceramics studio based in Camden – and is one of the businesses which has so far benefitted from Pay It Forward London. They offer pottery and furniture-making classes for vulnerable adults and with the Mayor’s support they have raised more than £10,000 to move into a new, larger studio to enable socially distanced teaching and events.
Furniture designer and co-founder of Hausof, Elise Harrison, said: “The Pay It Forward scheme was our golden ticket out of a painful lockdown when we didn’t think we could look forward to having any functioning business.
“Crowdfunding platforms take serious work to be successful, but once we put in the effort we realised that even more funding opportunities would open up to us as we kept pushing for help. It’s not easy asking for money, but we had to swallow our pride and ask for the help we needed.
“Real hope is worth its weight in gold right now: this investment gives us real hope about the future we can build for ourselves.