Businesses in County Durham are being encouraged to seek financial support after nearly 7,500 grants were paid out totalling almost £83m.
Durham County Council is inviting local companies to apply for Business Support Grants to ease the financial burden they may be facing during the coronavirus pandemic, where they meet the government’s eligibility criteria.
The council is determined to be as flexible it can be within the restrictions of the eligibility criteria, to ensure that as much of the government grant provided as possible is allocated to businesses in County Durham.
The council has to date paid out 7,466 grants totalling some £82.700m – 85.57 per cent of the overall sum that was originally estimated would be paid out. It is working hard to increase the numbers of businesses that will be supported above the original estimate of 8,700.
These figures are the highest of any local authority in the North East in terms of the percentage of grants paid, and eight highest nationally. In terms of the number and value of grants paid to date, the council is third nationally.
The council and its economic development arm Business Durham have been approaching companies which were not originally identified as eligible for the grants to encourage them to apply, where they can demonstrate they meet the government’s eligibility criteria.
Cllr Carl Marshall, the council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “We are really pleased to have paid out more than £80m in grants so far to help more than 7,000 county businesses through these unprecedented times. We are not resting on our laurels though and are determined to ensure every business that is eligible can access this support.
“The fact we are the top North East council in terms of the volume and value of payments made and percentage of expected grants already paid, plus being ranked so highly nationally, is testament to our staff who are doing everything they can to support our businesses in this incredibly challenging climate. We’ve spent a number of years encouraging businesses to set up, locate and develop in County Durham and ensuring this money is paid to companies as quickly as possible builds on that work.
“We would encourage any companies in County Durham which have not applied for a grant to find out whether they are eligible – there is plenty of information on our website. We are determined that no eligible business is left without this support.”
The grants of either £10,000 or £25,000 are designed to help small businesses that have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Guidelines around which businesses are eligible for the grant have been set by the government.
One of the key eligibility criteria is that a business must have been occupying a qualifying business premises that was listed in the council’s rating list at 11 March.
Businesses can find out whether they are eligible and get more information by visiting www.durham.gov.uk/ndrgrants