MORE THAN 3000 Sunderland businesses have received a combined total of over £30m in COVID-19 grants paid out by Sunderland City Council.
Close work between the Council’s Business Rates and Business Investment Teams to support businesses with queries and help smooth the validation process has allowed some 3,328 grant payments to be made to Sunderland businesses to date, totalling £37.5m.
The council has been in contact with more than 3000 businesses since March to support them as they navigate the COVID-19 lockdown, and is providing assistance via its firstname.lastname@example.org email address and central phone number as well as dedicated web pages for businesses and employers at www.sunderland.gov.uk/covid-19business.
Close partnership working with the Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID) team is ongoing, ensuring eligible businesses access the grants available and linking into the national UK BIDs network to ensure that the city centre emerges in the strongest position possible.
Peter McIntyre, executive director of city development at Sunderland City Council, said: “Our business support and finance teams have been working hand in hand to ensure that we get grants in the bank accounts of businesses across the city as quickly as possible.
“We are working through more complex applications, for instance where businesses have not provided the correct information to allow us to make payment, and we will be making contact with them as of next week to get this resolved. We will also be reaching out to those who have applied for a grant, but do not meet Government criteria, as well as businesses that we believe may be eligible, but who have not submitted an application to us.”
Any business or organisation that has not yet submitted their details on the online form but would like to find out whether it is eligible for the grant should complete the online COVID-19 Business Rates Grant Funding Scheme form. Those which occupy and pay business rates for more than one property should complete a separate COVID-19 Business Rates Grant Funding Scheme form per property as the grants are paid on an individual property basis.
Businesses and self-employed people who want to find out what financial support is available for them can use the new Government coronavirus business support finder tool. This will ask business owners to fill out a simple questionnaire, and will take minutes to complete. They will then be directed to a list of all the financial support they may be eligible for.
More information is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-launches-new-coronavirus-business-support-finder-tool and the support finder tool is at https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder.
In addition to grants, the Government-backed loan scheme launched this week, allowing businesses to access between £2k and £50k, with money being made available within days, and on an interest-free basis for the first 12 months.
Sunderland BID is setting up its own Ask the Expert virtual panel to help businesses with any questions they might have from across the spectrum. Anyone who would like to join the panel should contact email@example.com.