The story of one Ealing business during COVID-19

With businesses being hit hard by the economic tsunami caused by COVID-19, the financial measures announced by the chancellor have thrown some a lifeline and a chance to survive.

Ealing Council was allocated £68.2million in financial aid for businesses and has taken first place amongst local authorities in the country in ensuring local businesses get the critical funding released by the government.

To date the council has delivered 94% of the £68.2million to more than 4,688 businesses across the borough on behalf of the government. A final batch of payments will be issued later this week to the remaining recipients.

The government support means that every business with a rateable value below £15,000 will receive a grant of up to £10,000. While larger businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure industries, that are eligible, will receive £25,000 if they have a rateable value above £15,000 but below £51,000.

Ealing In London spoke to one local company, Braybrook & Britten, about what the real impact of COVID-19 has been on them and how the financial aid has helped them.

Braybrook and Britten are an independent, online, silversmith jewellers, who have been based in Ealing for the last 25 years. The company employs three staff.

The company works with UK and European manufacturers and small-scale creatives that produce a range of beautifully designed silverware, glassware and jewellery. Braybook and Britten design many of the pieces they sell themselves in partnership with their manufacturers and many companies in their supply chain sell solely to them.

John Langford, co-director of the company, said: “This is certainly the most sudden slow down (experienced) and the problem is it turned off (everything) very quickly.

“In the short-term everything has ground to a halt.In the long-term we will experience problems with raw materials and manufacturers.One workshop has already gone into receiveship. We have done a ‘normal’ recession – we know what the drill is.But what is scary is that nothing is normal now.

“We are seeing 30% of the business that we would expect to see at this time of year.” To put it more starkly, “To break even on average we need to take £1200 a day and we now taking between £60 and 70 a day.”

The company have had to furlough their three staff and are operating on a greatly reduced level. However, they have been able to benefit from the Government’s rate relief package of measures and the job retention scheme for staff. Speaking about the government’s financial aid packages that it announced and the way that Ealing Council dealt with the payment of these, John said:

“When we found out that we had got the 100% rate relief it was a godsend. The rate relief will help because firms like us don’t run with a lot of fat around us, and it now stops quite so much cash having to be spent.We also received a £25k grant which will provide us with a source to pay salaries due.If Ealing Council hadn’t moved so quickly there was no way that we could have paid those salaries.

“I was impressed that the government and everyone else recognised the scale of the problem and acted so quickly.When we sent off our email (to the council) we didn’t have a lot of hope but we are grateful that people responded in such a positive way.”

As a result of the financial aid, John says that, “We now have a plan – we can get ourselves through to October and the busy Christmas period.”