City Council provides £26.6m to almost 1,800 Oxford businesses to support them through coronavirus pandemic

Published: Friday, 16th October 2020

Oxford City Council has provided £26.6m to almost 1,800 businesses in the city to support them through the coronavirus pandemic.

During lockdown, the Government provided the City Council with the funding to support small businesses, retailers and other businesses in Oxford.

The City Council was also provided with funding to provide discretionary support for businesses that were not covered by other funding schemes.

In response, the City Council established a system for administering the grants that included a robust counter-fraud team to quickly investigate all applications.

The City Council does not have contact details for every business in the city as most microbusinesses don’t pay business rates, so a publicity campaign and several rounds of calls and emails started to inform businesses that there was money available for them – and to walk them through the application process.

In total, the City Council has provided grants to 1,795 businesses in Oxford.

Business support grants

The City Council has paid £25,220,000 in support grants to 1,568 businesses in Oxford, including:

  • £6,720,000 to 672 small businesses that applied for the Small Business Grant Fund
  • £2,600,000 to 260 small businesses that applied for the Retail, Leisure & Hospitality Grants Fund
  • £15,900,000 to 636 larger businesses that applied for the Retail, Leisure & Hospitality Grants Fund

The City Council launched the funding pots in April and by 5 May had already handed out £19.7m of funding (77.7%).

From May, the City Council began contacting individual eligible businesses that had not yet applied directly and walking them through the application process.

The final grant was paid ahead of the Government’s deadline for applications on 30 September.

Discretionary grants

Separately, the City Council was provided with £1,419,000 as a discretionary grant pot to provide for businesses and charities that did not meet funding criteria for other grants.

The funds were targeted at small businesses and charities with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs, such as those in shared offices, regular market traders, bed & breakfasts, and charities.

The City Council has now paid out the funding to 227 businesses and charities in Oxford using the discretionary fund, including:

  • £704,000 in grants of less than £10,000 to 172 businesses
  • £440,000 in grants of £10,000 to 44 businesses
  • £275,000 in grants of £25,000 to 11 businesses

Wider support for businesses

The City Council has also been supporting businesses in Oxford through the coronavirus pandemic by pedestrianising areas of the city centre to provide space for outdoor dining, installing new bike racks across the city and making parking at Oxford’s five park and rides free throughout August.

“Businesses are the lifeblood of Oxford and its economy, so it vital that we move mountains to support them.

“We set up our systems for all the grant pots – including a robust counter-fraud processes – quickly and issued the majority of the Government funding to businesses in Oxford within days and weeks.

“Over recent months we have been tracking down contact details for individual small and micro businesses in the city, including sole operators without websites, to inform them that there’s money and support available. In many cases, we also walked them through the application process.

“To contact and support almost 1,800 businesses through so many different grant application processes is heroic, and I’d like to thank the teams at the City Council for all their hard work to make this happen.”

Councillor Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for City Centre, Covered Market and Culture