£30m boost to help city’s small businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic


More than £30m has been handed out to small businesses in the city to help them get through the coronavirus pandemic.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has administered the funds to retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in the city as part of a host of Government-backed business support schemes launched as a result of the outbreak of Covid-19.

But the authority claims up to 500 firms still might be eligible for a grant – but are yet to come forward.

Recent recipients of the one-off grant have described the funding as ‘a lifeline.’

Richard Amison, who runs craft beer and bottle bar BottleCraft in Hanley’s Cultural Quarter, employs seven people and six are now furloughed while the bar is closed.

Bottlecraft

He said: “ The funding is going to help us to keep paying our team while we wait for the furloughed worker scheme to start paying out. It’s also helping to keep the bar ticking over – even in hibernation – by making sure all the ongoing bills, such as fuel, rent and finance carry on being paid so when we do eventually come out of this we’re not in arrears to anyone and are ready to re-open and trade straight away.

“We’re doing OK now the funding has arrived. We were getting very worried a couple of weeks ago that we’d spend through our reserves before the end of April, so the arrival of the council grant support has really eased our minds.

“Other than that we’re just trying to keep busy and keep the bar ready to go as soon as things change. Having weekends off is very strange when you work in our business, so that’s taking some getting used to.”

Richard added: “We’d urge anyone who thinks they may be eligible to come forward, and even if you think you may not be it’s worth checking out. This funding could be the difference between your business surviving or not – and it’s a grant, so there’s no burden to repay going forward…you’ve really got nothing to lose.”

Gaynor Lowndes, of Park Hall, runs The Fruit and Veg store in Bennett Precinct, Longton.

She said: “Mine is a new business, and it has taken some time to build up my customer base, so the coronavirus has hit us hard.

“I sell perishable goods, and so when we had to close I had around £1,500 of stock in the store. We took the stock out to care homes around the area so that they could have them for free and the food didn’t go to waste.

“The funding is a lifeline. It will help me for the future to cover costs during the lockdown.”

Gaynor added: “I have now started to contact my suppliers to start getting prepared for when we can eventually open again, I want to be ready for when this will be. The money means that I can keep on going in the meantime.”

Dean Bradbury owns Bradbury’s Auto Bodyshop in Fenton.

He said: “I heard about the government funding and received a letter from the council about it but I was apprehensive at first. Eventually I realised that we needed the support to survive. My son filled the form in online, and we received a response within an hour. We will use the grant for bills and it will pay a small wage to help us through the lockdown.

“We really appreciate the support that has been provided. We’ve had a lot of cancellations in the last few weeks and so were struggling to keep going.”

Council leader Abi Brown is now urging any business who may be eligible for the grants to come forward and apply.

She said: “It is wonderful to hear how this funding is helping our city’s hardworking businesses through this most challenging of times. We are doing all we can to ensure those businesses that are eligible for the funding can receive it. We urge any business that may be eligible to do as Gaynor, the Bradbury’s and Richard has done, and fill in the form on our website.”

For more information about property related-matters, details about business loans or grants as well as information for the self-employed, call 01782 236878 or email business.growth@stoke.gov.uk.





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