Newcastle City Council has now paid out over £15.6 million to help over 1,000 small businesses through the coronavirus pandemic and is appealing for others to register as quickly as possible.
Over 600 businesses who registered online with the council are set to benefit with payments of up to £25,000 landing in their bank accounts in the next few days.
This is the second tranche of payments, worth £7.3 million to help support small businesses and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. The first tranche saw 450 businesses receive fast-tracked payments of over £8 million to businesses where bank details were held by the council.
Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of the Council said: “The coronavirus crisis is having an impact on businesses across Newcastle. The Council will do everything it can to support them, provide funding and protect our economy through such an unprecedented time.
“Our immediate priority as a city is to protect as many businesses and jobs as possible, so that we are in a good position for a strong recovery when the time comes.
“We are working hard to ensure the national initiatives are tailored to our local circumstances. A particular focus of our efforts is to work with our small and medium sized businesses who are incredibly important to our diverse economy and are feeling the impact of the crisis very keenly.
“Our dedicated Business Support Service is there to guide businesses through these uncharted waters and make sure you are getting all the support you and your employees are entitled to. You are not alone; support is available and I would urge all businesses to get in touch if you need help.
“Whether you’re a market trader, a digital start-up, a garage or a corner shop – or one of the many other small businesses that serves our city – we want to do what we can to support you, ensure your survival and enable you to flourish again as soon as the crisis is over. I’ll continue to work with Government to put in place whatever support is necessary to help us all get through this.”
Several schemes have been be made available by government for councils to administer. This includes grants of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief. Whilst businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector are eligible for a grant of £25,000 if they occupy a property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000, and a grant of £10,000 if the rateable value is below £15,000.
Newcastle City Council estimate that 4,500 businesses in the city meet the government’s funding criteria and are urging businesses who haven’t contacted the council to register their details online at www.newcastle.gov.uk/covidbusinesssupport so the council can process their payment quickly.
Business support teams at the council are verifying each application and processing payments within five to ten working days, to ensure that all eligible businesses get fast access to funding, as well as help and advice during difficult trading conditions
They are also reminding businesses that funding is available for each business property and businesses with multiple properties should complete separate applications for each of their premises to ensure they receive all the funding they are entitled to.
Sarah Green, Interim Chief Executive at NGI said:
“Many business owners are really concerned about the future of their business and are feeling overwhelmed by the financial challenges they are facing. The way we respond and support companies at this challenging time is vital.
“The support landscape can be confusing, and we urge all eligible businesses to get in touch with Newcastle City Council or their relevant local authority so they can get access to funding quickly and the right support.
“Working together with partners, NGI will continue to work hard to support businesses at this critical time and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our economy. These are challenging times, by working together we are stronger.”
Adrian Waddell, Chief Executive of NE1 Ltd said:
“The Council has been doing an amazing job working flat out to get these grants paid to businesses since the Government confirmed the qualification criteria on Friday.
“Teams have been working around the clock and we applaud their efforts. We urge businesses to visit the council’s website and register online to access these vital funds.
“NE1 is on hand for businesses in the city centre to offer what help and support we can and we urge people to get in touch if there is any assistance we can provide.”
The website also has details of Government schemes and initiatives businesses may be able to access and what support is available. This includes signposting businesses to the National schemes introduced by the Chancellor on 20 March including the British Business Bank loans of up to £5 million, the commitment to cover 80% of retained workers’ salaries to stop job losses and delays to VAT payments.
For those retail, hospitality and leisure businesses who pay business rates, they will also be able to benefit from a 12-month payment holiday next year. Guidance has been released by government and council staff are aiming to process these changes as quickly as possible.
The council is working closely with a range of partners, including NE1 and NGI. Together they will support businesses across the city, proactively reaching out to eligible companies, signposting and gathering intelligence to help inform potential new packages where gaps are identified.
Advice for businesses is available at: www.newcastle.gov.uk/covidbusinesssupport