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Essex County Council is providing £250,000 of funding to the Citizens Advice network in Essex to help it in its response to individuals and small businesses in the county following the COVID-19 lockdown.
Each year, local Citizens Advice in Essex support thousands of people in financial difficulty and in recent year’s this has increasingly included sole traders and small business owners
Most businesses in Essex are small – 91% have between 1 and 9 employees. Many small businesses, whether sole traders or limited companies, will have been hit by a loss of income during the COVID-19 lockdown and this will have an effect on many other areas of the business. The need for operational business support is expected to rise as the country comes out of lockdown.
The funding will be utilised in a number of ways, tailored to the needs of the locality. Firstly, all local Citizens Advice will be able to maintain or increase their overall service provision. Secondly, in addition to support to access operational help, local Citizens Advice will be on hand to also support smaller businesses, especially sole traders, to better manage their personal finances more effectively.
There are national support structures in place for small businesses but many directors of small firms and sole traders, working hard on their core business, may need help and expertise in accessing the help that is out there – that’s where the Citizen’s Advice service comes in.
The funding from Essex County Council will support Citizens Advice to offer additional capacity and more legal advice, such as specialist level employment advice, to small businesses.
The money will be provided to local Citizens Advice in Colchester, Basildon, Chelmsford, Braintree, Tendring, Epping Forest, Harlow, Uttlesford, Rochford, Brentwood and Maldon.
Cllr Tony Ball, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said:
“Essex County Council already supports businesses to locate, grow and succeed in Essex and BEST Growth Hub provides free support and funding opportunities to grow businesses.
“Essex for Business offers funding opportunities and advice and Essex International helps businesses to find opportunities in China. On top of all this we want Essex to attract and grow large firms in high growth industries. We recognise that local Citizens Advice are a well-known and trusted organisation and want small business owners and sole traders to reach out for the support they need at this difficult time.”
Cllr Susan Barker, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Customer, Corporate, Culture and Communities, said:
“We know how important for people and businesses in our Essex communities to get the advice and support they need, and it’s more important now than ever before. We are delighted that through our communities team we are able to support additional capacity through the Citizen’s Advice service to support this work.”
David Pickles, Chair of Citizens Advice Essex, the consortium body for the Citizens Advice network in Essex, said:
“The Citizens Advice service is a known and trusted charity and relies upon income from grants and contracts to survive. In these unprecedented times, trustees, volunteers and staff hugely appreciate the additional funding from Essex County Council, which will support their local office’s response to the effects of Covid-19 in Essex.”