More than £775,000 has been given out to small businesses in Stoke-on-Trent in the first issuing of support grants to boost the city through the coronavirus pandemic.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has made the first payments from a £57m support fund from government, after writing out to 4,674 businesses across the city last week.
The council has so far received 2,369 completed forms for the small grants fund, and retail, leisure and hospitality grant fund.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “We recognise that these grants are a shot in the arm to businesses to help them through this most testing of times, and our teams are working swiftly to ensure those businesses that are eligible are receiving them. We are doing all we can to support our city through the pandemic. It’s a major operation and our teams are systematically working through application forms, making balances and checks and ensuring that claims are not fraudulent. Once forms are completed correctly, it takes two to three days to complete these checks. We will be issuing grants to many more businesses over the coming days. In order for us to do this as quickly as possible, it is really important that businesses fill in the forms correctly. This includes adding in the company registration number and bank account details. It holds up the process when we have to re-check forms and ask for more information because they aren’t filled in properly.”
The application form and full details on the criteria to apply can be found at www.stoke.gov.uk/businessratesgrants.
Further government guidance regarding grants conditions and exclusions can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874772/small-business-grant-fund-and-retail-guidance.pdf.
Support for larger business is available directly through central government. For further information please see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses
The council is continuing to urge residents across the city to follow national advice, especially during the Easter half-term holidays. The advice is to stay at home and safe lives, by: ‘acting like you’ve got it, anyone can spread it.’
Residents are also encouraged to take hygiene steps in handling their wheelie bins, using the following guidance: Wash your hands before and after handling your wheelie bins, Put cloths, wipes and gloves used for cleaning in the general waste bin, Do not put tissues directly in your bins, Always disinfect the handles of your wheelie before and after collection.
Meanwhile, 22 applications have been received to date (07/04/20) through the council’s #StokeCares campaign to sign up carers in Stoke-on-Trent to meet the needs of the city’s most vulnerable residents during the Covid-19 crisis. In addition, a total of 107 staff from across council services that have stopped or reduced operations due to the crisis, have been retrained and redeployed to support #StokeCares and #StokeonTrentTogether – a campaign run with voluntary sector organisation VAST to give support to households that need help the most during the pandemic. Staff from housing teams, libraries and commissioning teams have joined the campaigns. #StokeonTrentTogether has handled 840 requests for support including food parcels and prescription collections. A total of 707 people and 136 organisations have come together to support the campaign.
For more information about #StokeonTrentTogether click here.
Other useful links:
People interested in applying to the #StokeCares campaign can visit https://www.stoke.gov.uk/jobs and search for ‘casual care worker (personal wellbeing assistant)’ or can call 01782 238019 for more information.
A summary of the Coronavirus Act 2020 which passed into law on 26 March is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-bill-what-it-will-do/what-the-coronavirus-bill-will-do.
For more information and advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) please visit Public Health England: https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/ and the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
All residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The significance of this action cannot be underestimated.