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Gloucestershire Business News

Council expects to complete grant payments this week

Gloucester City Council is leading the way across the South West in paying small business grants during the coronavirus pandemic.

The council had paid 68 per cent of the 1,656 eligible businesses on Tuesday and expects to complete grants for all businesses by the end of the week "dependent on applications".

The latest figures compiled by Business West showed the council has paid £13.9million - 64 per cent of the £21.7million in small business grants allocated by the Government - to 1,135 applicants.

The figures showed Cheltenham Borough Council - which closed its offices to visitors from today - has distributed £12million (49 per cent of allocated funding) to 960 businesses (55 per cent).

The council says approximately 1,750 businesses are eligible to receive a share of £24.5million with up to 500 yet to apply.

Tewkesbury Borough Council had paid £8.4million to 725 businesses by yesterday, just under half of its allotted £17.2 million for an estimated 1,500 businesses.

Updated figures for the remaining county authorities are not available.

Punchline reported last week that Stroud District Council had paid £10.4million to 900 of an estimated 2,250 businesses, Cotswold District Council had issued grants totally around £11million in 900 payments to more than 2,500 eligible firms and Forest of Dean District Council had shared £10million to 1,050 of 2,150 businesses.

Business West's director of policy Matt Griffith is calling on all councils to make the payments - issued as part of a package announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last month - as soon as possible.

He said: "For many businesses government support now is what stands between survival and going to the wall. But timing is critical - with staff costs and bills to pay, many can't afford to wait.

"This is why we are urging all local authorities and central government to get money to firms as rapidly as is practicable.

"Many of our local authorities are working incredibly hard, with many working over the Easter bank holiday to deliver grants to local businesses.

"There is still considerable variation in how well councils are doing. Some, like Gloucester City Council, have now paid 68 per cent of eligible businesses, whereas others are struggling to get up to speed to the scale of the crisis."

Elsewhere in the South West, Bath and North Somerset Council had distributed just 12 per cent of its allocated funding by Tuesday with that figure rising to 45 per cent in Bristol.

Business West is also highlighting the need for businesses to apply to receive the small business grants from their local authority.

Mr Griffith said: "When the scheme was originally announced, government said that businesses would not need to apply to receive the money. However, this has changed and to get a grant, businesses have to apply direct to their local authority with some basic financial information in order to prevent fraud.

"Our work has highlighted high numbers of eligible firms who haven't applied. We are working with local authorities to urge eligible businesses to apply as soon as they can."

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