More than 250 applications have been received for a £2.8m grant scheme to support small businesses through the coronavirus restrictions.

The deadline for the Stoke-on-Trent City Council-administered funding was on Wednesday 4 June, and the council are now reviewing all responses for the funding before awarding grants. The money is from the government’s Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund, and small businesses in the city had a week to apply.

Council leader Abi Brown 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. This is an additional pot of money to help those businesses that were not eligible for the small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Fund which launched on 31 March.

“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.”

Under the scheme, grants of up to £10,000 are available to support: Small and micro businesses, Businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs, Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the Covid-19 crisis, Businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value, annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000.

Businesses must have been trading on 11 March 2020, to be eligible and while the fund has been open for all businesses, the assessment process will prioritise the following:

Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces, such as those with units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment

Market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment
Bed and breakfasts which pay council tax instead of business rates
Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for small business rates relief or rural rate relief.

The authority has already administered £48.6m to 4,272 businesses from the original small business grants allocation. There are around 550 businesses which may be eligible for this funding that have not applied for it. Council teams are continuing to work to contact these businesses to identify if they are eligible and to encourage them to complete the form. Details of the funding are available at: www.stoke.gov.uk/businessratesgrants

Meanwhile the council is working towards making a submission to the government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund on Friday (5 June), after provisionally being awarded £842,000, across two phases of funding.

The funding is to support pop-up infrastructure to support cycling and walking during and after the coronavirus pandemic. Under the scheme, works including pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements and safer junctions, as well as cycle and bus-only corridors could be considered.

Councillor Brown said: “This funding will help our city to recover and move again in safe and sustainable ways. We are investing in all transport forms to make getting about the city easier and make it a better place to live and run a business. We are now working on plans that are proportionate to our topography, are practical and can make the most impact for the city.”

 

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