On Small Business Saturday, shop owners in Whitehaven have received a visit from their local MP after reopening their doors following the easing of lockdown restrictions.
As part of the grassroots Small Business Saturday campaign, Trudy Harrison MP visited shops across the town including the iconic department store Dixons as well as Richardsons of Whitehaven to speak with owners about the challenges faced during the national lockdown.
Since 2013, the campaign, founded by American Express in the US has been a key annual moment to promote small businesses and to champion what they do across Copeland and beyond for local communities.
This year, Small Business Saturday comes at the end of a hugely challenging period for small businesses, with many facing long periods of closure and reduced income due to the pandemic.
Trudy, said: “The significance of Small Business Saturday is even more pronounced this year and it is a great relief that shops across Copeland have been able to reopen in the run up to Christmas. There are 262 shops in Whitehaven town centre alone supporting around 600 jobs, so it is absolutely essential that we all continue to back our local businesses, not just on Small Business Saturday, but every day of the year.
“Copeland has an abundance of independent shops, from homewares, books and food and drink to electronics, jewellery, beauty, florists and arts and crafts and, with just three weeks to go, I will be doing as much of my Christmas shopping locally, whilst encouraging all my constituents to support their local businesses and communities so that they remain a part of our high streets for years to come.”
Providing further support to businesses, the government recently announced they would extend the furlough scheme until March next year in order to support 2,000 jobs impacted by disruption caused by coronavirus in Copeland.
Grants for the self-employed, benefitting 3,900 people in the area have also been made more generous in light of recent national and local lockdown announcements.
In addition, the business rates grant scheme, funded by the Government and administered by Copeland Council, had by September 8 supported 1,356 businesses in the borough, with a total value of £15.4m.
This is more than 90 per cent of the available fund provided by government.
The Chancellor has also revealed a new £4 billion Levelling Up Fund to improve the infrastructure people and businesses rely on every day, following the £3.6 billion Towns Fund, and £1 billion Future High Streets Fund, helping to transform town centres across the country.