Through a range of Scottish Government-funded schemes and its own bespoke grants, the council’s Economic Development and Protective Services have provided crucial financial support.
To-date, 3,859 small businesses, firms in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors and tenant occupiers have received the vast majority of the funding at just over £43 million. The Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund provided grants totalling £380,000 to 190 firms, while the Business Hardship Fund paid out £360,160 to 229 businesses.
The Strategic Framework Business Fund which has already paid out more than £3.8 million remains open to support local eligible businesses mainly in the sectors of hospitality and non-essential retail.
The impressive figures are featured in the council’s ‘Response For Business’ document which provides a snapshot of the level of support provided to firms during the Covid emergency.
The council’s Phoenix Fund which launched back in May has since offered £190,000 to 25 business associations and groups to support £340,000 worth of projects which will help town centres bounce back from the economic impact of Covid-19.
Since it was launched in July, more than £288,000 has been awarded to 47 businesses through the Business Resilience and Sustainability Scheme (BRASS).
In terms of employability, Aberdeenshire Council has welcomed 327 clients onto the ‘Back to Work’ programme, supported 91 clients into education training and self/employment packages and registered 65 onto Kickstart placements.
Business Gateway teams provided more than 100 businesses with 3-days’ digital marketing support and handled 3,000 business enquiries within the first six months of the pandemic.
Emergency HR and finance expertise also delivered vital support for struggling businesses, while 140 digital key skills workshops were delivered.
The council’s own regeneration and town centre work has continued throughout 2020, focusing on reducing the impact of the pandemic on businesses and livelihoods in our towns. Eight Aberdeenshire Town Centre community projects were also awarded grants totalling £1.18 million from the 2020 Scottish Government Town Centre funds including the Victoria and Albert Halls in Ballater.
In terms of European Social Fund (ESF) grants, successful applications were made for the Aberdeenshire Employability Pipeline (£806,707) to fund additional key workers and a wage subsidy scheme for employers taking on an employability client. Inclusive Aberdeenshire also received £639,837 to enhance the council’s Information and Advice Service.
Cllr Peter Argyle, chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, said: “These funds have been a vital source of financial support for North-east businesses, many of which continue to face massive challenges on a day-to-day basis.”