Discretionary coronavirus relief fund of local business aid has now been “exhausted”

East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s economy portfolio holder has said she is “extremely sorry” some businesses have closed due to staff self-isolating after councillors heard funding for them had run out.

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 8:53 am
East Riding Council’s Economy Portfolio Holder, Cllr Jane Evison.

The council’s Economy Portfolio Holder Cllr Jane Evison said businesses had been left in a “Catch 22” as rising staff self-isolations due to coronavirus forced some to close.

But she added she could only call on customers to continue wearing masks and distance while visiting shops, pubs, restaurants and other businesses as support funding was now gone.

It comes as East Riding Council’s finance lead Julian Neilson told the Overview and Management Committee that a discretionary coronavirus relief fund of business aid had now been “exhausted”.

Committee Chair Cllr Paul Nickerson said absences had created a “new challenge” for businesses, with a restaurant in his Minster and Woodmansey ward almost unable to order supplies.

The comments come as businesses across Hull, the East Riding and nationally have faced staff shortages or have had to shut after the NHS coronavirus app told them to self-isolate.

Cllr Nickerson said: “A number of businesses, including small ones and particularly those in hospitality, have been forced to close after staff have been pinged by the app.

“At a time when they were expecting to open up their staff aren’t there to help them.

“A restaurant in my ward has told me their supplies would go to waste if one more member of staff is pinged.”

Mr Neilson said businesses, including those in hospitality, had received government Restart grants to help them reopen.

The finance lead said: “This is a significant issue for businesses across the country, we will be giving thought to what we can do.

“There has been funding provided to businesses already, but the pandemic is very unpredictable.

“As businesses open up we’re seeing infections rise and more and more people pinged and having to self-isolate as a result.

“It’s difficult for businesses who only have small numbers of staff, if one has to self-isolate it affects the rest.

“We will need to see what the government’s response to this will be.”

Cllr Evison said the situation with staff had placed “tremendous pressure” on businesses.

But she added she did not see what more the council could do at this stage to help.

The portfolio holder said: “It’s extremely unfortunate and my heart goes out to affected businesses, but I struggle to see what we could do.

“If there was anything we could do to help them we would, but the money we got from government has already been used to help as many businesses as possible.

“Businesses have been responsible and they and their staff are doing the right thing, but it’s meant that just as they were opening their doors some have had to shut them again.

“We were all so desperate to have our freedom again but the fact that we’re mixing means the virus is also spreading.

“The Government is saying that from Monday, July 19 it will be up to the individual what they do about restrictions.

“All I can do is ask customers and patrons to continue following government guidance and to be aware of the dangers as the virus continues to spread.”