Local businesses fight to survive post lockdown

Businesses locked out of claiming vital funds

Craving Coffee
Credit: Ten 87 Studios

By Luchia Robinson

Many businesses across Haringey are struggling to stay afloat because of the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Income has become very limited for a lot of small and medium sized businesses, and in some cases, it has stopped completely. Although government grants and loans have been announced to help businesses in need of support, many have found that they are ineligible to access them.

Haringey Council’s £56m grant funding for small businesses is only payable if the business pays Business Rates directly to the council, which not all do. Landlords can apply for Business Rates relief (many up to 100% for 2020/21), but such relief or grants may not necessarily make a difference to the actual business owner, because landlords are not required to pass them on.

Matthew and Rachel Ho run the café, Craving Coffee, in Markfield Road. They say: “We currently aren’t eligible to apply for the small business relief grants that were announced by the government, because we are one of many in a multi-occupancy site who pays rates to a landlord, and not directly to the council. This rules us out.

“Although a lot of work is being done to overcome this for all affected, there are no guarantees. We do have extra insurance protection that may cover us for the pandemic, however, the whole process is moving very slowly (not through lack of trying) and thereare still no guarantees that we’ll get any payout, or whether it will be enough if we do.”

Haringey Lib Dem Leader Cllr Liz Morris has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hons Rishi Sunak MP, and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local government, Rt Hons Robert Jenrick MP, asking for financial help to be extended to support businesses in shared premises.

Cllr Morris said: “Just because you pay your business rates to your landlord shouldn’t mean that you miss out on vital help. We will lose the creative and vibrant soul of this borough if a technicality stops these businesses accessing vital funding.”

“The government must remember that this taxpayer money is to support jobs andbusinesses, not to line landlord’s pockets.”

Downhills Park Cafe
Credit: Emmanuel Baah

Downhills Park Café finds itself in an altogether different, but increasingly precarious situation. Owner, Neri Gun said: There are far more restrictions placed on park cafés in Haringey, and we are not allowed to serve takeaways to the public like high street business are able to. Because of the technicalities and bureaucracy, we do not qualify for any grants, insurance pay outs or loans.

Downhills Park Cafe owner, Neri Gun
Credit: Emmanuel Baah

“We have been forced to close to the public
and use Deliveroo which has been quiet at
best and takes a considerable chunk of any sale we make.

“What we do here is far more than the coffee and food that we provide – it’s a community. It’s a space where you meet new people, create bonds, and watch your kids play in a safe, happy environment. All of that has been taken away, and it has left us in an extremely difficult position.”

Downhills Park Café and Craving Coffee have turned to Crowdfunder to raise the funds that their businesses need (£25,000 each, respectively), with both cafés offering a range of rewards for those able to pledge financial donations.

Rachel and Matthew said: “We are reaching out to our beloved community to help us, as we are fighting to save Craving Coffee for our team, ensuring that they have jobs to come back to.”

These two businesses and many others like them across the borough, are striving to maintain what they have built over the years.

“We will be using these funds (raised) to ensure the café is still here after the COVID storm passes,” said Neri.

For a full list of pledge options, and to support the Crowdfunds, head to: crowdfunder.co.uk/savecraving
crowdfunder.co.uk/savedownhillsparkcafe

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