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More than 250 businesses apply for £2.8m grant scheme

Published: Wednesday, 3rd June 2020

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 passed at 5pm today (Wednesday). The council will now review 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 this 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.”

The council is celebrating the work of volunteers who have been helping vulnerable residents during the pandemic, as part of National Volunteers Week this week. The authority is also encouraging people to nominate those who have made exceptional contributions in response to the coronavirus for a Covid-19 Honours award.

Councillor Brown said: “We know how our city has come together so impressively through the adversity of the coronavirus, with hundreds of people, organisations, community groups, charities and businesses offering their support to help those in most need at this time.

“Our #StokeonTrentTogether campaign with voluntary sector partner VAST has seen more than 730 people pledge their support to an initiative that has received 7,500 calls and delivered more than 4,000 food parcels in little over two months. Groups like The Hubb Foundation have provided 50,000 meals, 81 of our schools have stayed open during the lockdown, with teaching staff working into the evenings to provide parents and families with online learning and support. A wide range of community groups and organisations have been going above and beyond to help our city at this most testing of times. Special mention must also go to the Hub Volunteers in Fenton, who have been recognised with a Queen’s Award for contributing 3,840 hours of voluntary service to their community last year – a fantastic achievement.

“We have a unique opportunity to recognise the work of people and groups across the city. The government has announced that nominations are open for people who have made an exceptional contribution in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and I’d like to encourage nominations from the city.”

Nominations will be considered by an independent honours committee. To make a nomination, visit www.gov.uk/honours and go to the coronavirus-related work section where there is a nomination form to fill in and an email address to send it to.

There is no deadline for nominations. Nominations should include the nominee’s name and role and a summary of the impact the person has made as well as additional documents such as letters of support.

Their contribution could include:

  • Frontline work supporting the most vulnerable members of society and those who have caught Covid-19
  • Providing critical care to Covid-19 patients
  • Developing innovations to support the vulnerable and those with Covid-19
  • Going to extraordinary lengths to keep critical services going
  • Volunteering in the community or for service organisations in support of those affected by Covid-19.

If people need any guidance or advice on completing the form, please contact member, governance and civic support on 01782 232751 or 01782 236663, Lord.Mayor@stoke.gov.uk.

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.

For more information on digital services, visit www.stoke.gov.uk, download the MyStoke App, or follow the city council’s social media channels.