COLCHESTER Council has been handed £42 million to support the businesses worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The cash comes from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and will be distributed to firms from the start of April as part of the Government's huge £330 billion aid package to combat the effects of the crisis.

Cash will be awarded in the form of small business grants of £10,000 and retail, hospitality and leisure grants of either £10,000 of £25,000.

Grants will be given out depending on a business' rateable value, with council staff contacting firms over the coming days.

David King, councillor responsible for business and resources, said: "We know how important it is that we get payments out as fast as possible, in the next few days, to ensure businesses receive the support they desperately need.

"We will play our full part to ensure they are all aware of the range of support available and get help swiftly out to them when we can.

“The coming months will be difficult, but we will do all we can to support them through to better times.”

Elaine Jiggins, who owns Caffe Sala in Eld Lane, said the grant would safeguard the business so it was able to reopen.

"It will be the difference as to whether Caffe Sala opens its doors again or not," she said.

"The money will be used to pay our creditors, to continue to pay our utilities and to top up our staff's wages along with the 80 per cent coming from the Government.

"It will also hopefully give us a bit of a buffer when we do reopen because we do not know what kind of restrictions will be in place when that happens.

"It will be a lifeline and without this money I think many small independent retailers would be finished.

"If we are careful we could hopefully sustain between four and six months of being closed with this money."

The Government has also announced emergency extensions to retail relief for businesses, with smaller retailers set to pay no rates from April 1.

Colchester Council has amended bills and the relief will be automatically applied if possible.

For more information, visit or contact