More than 250 small businesses in Stoke-on-Trent have applied for emergency lockdown funding – and others may soon get a second chance to submit bids.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council launched the £2.8 million Discretionary Grants Fund last week after being allocated the money by th government, with the initial deadline for bids passing on Wednesday.
With grants of up to £10,000 available for small and micro businesses which have been hit by the Covid-19 crisis, even if all the applicants receive the maximum amount there will still be some money left in the council’s pot.
The council will therefore look at reopening the scheme once all the initial applications have been processed.
Council leader Abi Brown said the authority was aiming to get the first grants out to businesses next week.
She said: “We moved really quickly to launch this scheme once government issued final guidance on how it will run, and we have had a huge response.
“I’d like to thank all the businesses that have made applications, our teams are working at pace to check them against the criteria before we make a decision on allocations.
“Due to the large number of applications this work will take a little time, but we understand how important a lifeline this funding can be to businesses, and so we are working quickly to go through the details and award the funding.
“Unlike with the other grant funds we’ve administered, we didn’t really know how many businesses would be eligible. We have tried to make the process as easy as possible, and we want to get the funding to applicants as soon as we can.
“Once we do that we may be able to reopen the scheme to further applications.”
The discretionary grants are aimed at businesses that were not eligible for the Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Fund which launched on March 31.
They are available for small and micro businesses with relatively high fixed property costs, those which have seen a signficant fall in income due to the crisis, and those which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value, annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000.
Newcastle Borough Council is still accepting applications to its Discretionary Grants Fund, with businesses having until 9am on Monday, June 8 to submit bids.
The council will prioritise bids from:
- small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces which do not have their own business rates assessment;
- regular market traders with fixed building costs who do not have their own business rates assessment;
- registered bed and breakfasts which pay council tax instead of business rates;
- and charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.
Cabinet member for finance and efficiency, Stephen Sweeney, said: “We want as many eligible businesses as possible to receive some funding to support them through this crisis and, to that end, have made the decision to help as many as possible, splitting the funding equally.
“Not all councils are taking this approach but we feel that it makes it much fairer and much less of a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis that would only help a small number of our businesses.”
Visit www.newcastle-staffs.gov.uk for more information about Newcastle Borough Council’s scheme.
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