With the Easter bankholiday barely behind us, already we are hearing news that the peak of the Covid-19 virus is yet to arrive and that extensions to the current lockdown conditions are likely.

This is not welcome news from either a personal or a business perspective. However, given the experiences and lessons from elsewhere, it seems inevitable that restrictions will have to remain in place until we can be sure they are delivering the required effect.

However, many businesses, especially smaller ones, are already facing really tough times with their very survival at stake. So, in order to survive the current and extended lockdown period, the promised Government support must get through to the front line as quickly as possible.

I am pleased to see that there is progress on many fronts. The county’s local authorities, who are responsible for delivering the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, have worked tirelessly to get payments into the bank accounts of qualifying local businesses as quickly as possible. These payments are now proceeding at pace, helped in no small part by the fact that some local authority teams have been working throughout the bank holiday period.

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In addition, just last week the Government unveiled additional measures to improve small business access to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

This programme is administered via more than 40 accredited banks and provides interest-free, fee-free, government-backed support.

Here, there was a shaky start with many applicants finding the process for securing funding nightmarishly complex and inflexible. We hope that the Government’s additional measures address these issues, so that the application process is simpler and loans can be paid out more quickly.

With so much at stake, there is no time to waste when it comes to supporting the small businesses that are vital to the success of our local and national economies.

If the lockdown is set to continue, we need to take the shackles off all the available business support mechanisms now. That way, we will be in the best shape for recovery in the future.