In my last column, I focused on the importance of championing our communities during this period of continued uncertainty. As we enter into the second week of the national lockdown - supporting our communities and businesses remains, front and centre, the Council’s key priority.
I know that times are increasingly tough for both businesses and residents and as we head into the Christmas period, the hardship faced by some is particularly acute. As a consequence, more people are facing the prospect of having to use a foodbank to help feed themselves or their family. Run by an army of amazing volunteers – the district’s food banks are, quite simply, a lifeline.
To meet the growing demand, these food banks are reliant on donations and continued community support. I know that many local people have made donations and many more are planning to, in the run up to Christmas. This is a fantastic example of how South Kesteven residents have come together to support each other during these tough times. I am also proud that, since April, the Council has provided £20,000 to the district’s foodbanks to help them respond to the increase in demand for their services.
In addition to having a long-lasting impact on the lives of many residents, the challenges of Covid-19 are also impacting on our local businesses. Those especially affected are businesses deemed non-essential which have had to close their doors during the busiest trading period of the year.
To support local businesses, Government has provided funding to South Kesteven District Council to deliver two grant schemes. These grants will be in addition to the £29.1 million in Government grants we have already awarded to 2,535 local businesses.
The two grant schemes now open are:
• The Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG Closed) to support rate paying businesses within the area that are forced to close in line with national restrictions.
• The Additional Restriction Grant (ARG) to support businesses that will continue to be severely affected during the coming months. Initially, we are prioritising the use of some of this funding to support non-rate paying overnight accommodation businesses, forced to close during the national restriction period.
To find out more information or to make an application visit: www.investsk.co.uk/businessgrants
Another way that we can all play our part is to shop local where we can. With Christmas fast-approaching, buying gifts from your local independent business will help them keep their doors open long-past lockdown.
With two more weeks of lockdown in front of us, many people have said to me that it feels that there is no respite from the challenges that we face. But rest assured, the Council is here to support you and investing in our communities and businesses is something that we will continue prioritising during and after the pandemic. South Kesteven is a unique and thriving district and, together, we will overcome this.