Businesses hit by the Covid-19 pandemic will receive a substantial financial boost from the Council as it urges residents to Support Our Shops.

Working with the UK government Dartford Borough Council has so far pumped more than £15million into the local economy since the pandemic began.

Through the Support our Shops and Additional Restrictions Grants, the Council is now able to provide independent traders and hospitality businesses, including market stall holders, pubs and restaurants, with a significant financial lift as they emerge from the latest lockdown.

Council Leader Jeremy Kite recently met with traders to hear how important the funding could be, while also urging customers to support the local economy.

Cllr Kite said: “Since this pandemic began last spring, Dartford Borough Council has been offering support to businesses large and small right across the borough.

“As we return to a degree of normality, local businesses need support now more than ever, particularly local traders and small, independent traders.

“We’re launching a new initiative called ‘Support Our Shops’, the idea is that we’ll be putting money into those businesses that have had support from us over the last 18 months, with a particular focus on those small, independent traders in the retail and hospitality trade who have been particularly badly hit.

“Residents can help by shopping locally. They offer great services and prices and they really need your support right now. Use them or lose them. Let’s shop local, and get Dartford back on its feet.”

Among those due to receive the grant was Simon Zaiden, a stall holder who has served Dartford’s weekly market for 53 years. He said: “The last year has been very, very tough, but the Council has been fantastic, it’s helped and supported us and we really appreciate it. It’s great to be back in the fresh air working again.”

Newer businesses will also benefit from the funding.

Daniel Farr, co-owner of The Dartford Jug, took over the micropub in September. He said: “During the pandemic there have been so many expenses for us to focus on. It’s amazing and it will go a long way to get us back on our feet again.”

Dartford Borough Council will make contact with all eligible businesses by mid-June. For more information on the Support Our Shops grant, visit www.dartford.gov.uk