Mersey business leader helps secure £600m SME lifeline

Maggie O’Carroll, CEO of Liverpool-based The Women’s Organisation, joined forces with Liverpool MP Kim Johnson, to persuade the Government to rethink on coronavirus support. Tony McDonough reports

Maggie O'Carroll
Maggie O’Carroll, chief executive of The Women’s Organisation


Small businesses who were not eligible for support under the Government’s coronavirus support schemes have now been thrown a £600m lifeline following pressure from a Mersey business leader and local MP.

Maggie O’Carroll, chief executive of Liverpool-based The Women’s Organisation, last week joined forced with Liverpool Riverside Labour MP, Kim Johnson, to highlight the plight of a loophole which saw thousands of small businesses are missing out on grants of up to £25,000.

In March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a scheme whereby businesses with a rateable value of up to £51,000 could claim grants of either £10,000 or £25,000. However, the scheme excludes those businesses in serviced offices that do not pay business rates directly to local authorities.

The Women’s Organisation, which is also the lead agency for the Liverpool City Region Enterprise Hub scheme, sent its key concerns and recommendations to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, with support from Ms Johnson, and from Birkenhead Labour MP Mick Whitley.

Now Mr Sharma has responded by setting up a £600m discretionary fund to offer support to those businesses who missed out on the original scheme. Ms O’Carroll said: “Having worked directly with a number of Government departments to inform them of the feedback we received from our local business community, we are delighted to see that the Business Secretary Alok Sharma has now put a discretionary fund in place.

“This will prove to be a vital lifeline for those legitimate and viable small businesses that previously fell through the cracks in the financial support available.

“What we must see now is the swift and urgent allocation of this funding by our Local Authorities so that businesses across the Liverpool city region have the immediate cash injection that they need to survive, ensuring that we can protect incomes, jobs and the local economy.”

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