Cheshire East Council has distributed more than £35m in financial aid to companies throughout the borough – and is urging businesses to bear with it while it endeavours to help many more during the coronavirus pandemic.
The authority is working to deliver more than £90m in emergency business grants to qualifying businesses across the borough.
Following the Chancellor’s announcement in March, a £330bn COVID-19 support package was announced to businesses in the UK, including a business grant scheme which would be distributed by local authorities.
Cheshire East Council received the 15th largest amount in the country, reflecting the significant contribution its businesses make to the local economy.
It was paid to the council on April 2, at a time when it was issuing annual business rates bills and dealing with the additional payment holidays for retail, leisure and hospitality business rates – which has led to an additional £61m worth of financial relief across the borough.
Cllr Craig Browne, deputy leader at Cheshire East Council, said: “We completely understand that is a very difficult and worrying time for local businesses and are working hard to do the necessary checks required to release this public money as soon as possible.
“Around 50% of businesses in Cheshire East – approximately 8,000 – are eligible for grants of £10,000 or £25,000, and, in some cases, they may be eligible for multiple grants.
“In the last few days over £35.6m in grants has been paid, reaching all of the 2,594 businesses that the council holds verified bank details for – 37% of the total grant has been paid out to eligible businesses, which is above the average for councils across the country.”
Cllr Sam Corcoran, leader at Cheshire East Council, said: “Our business rates team are working extremely hard to get these grants out.
“We recognise how important cashflow is for small businesses. However, we can only pay out a grant if we have the correct bank details, which must be verified by our teams before they issue a grant.
“If you have submitted the correct bank details, we will be delivering your grant within the next few days.
“To support this work, the council is redeploying staff to help with the huge demand on this service area. These staff are contacting businesses who have not yet given us their bank details.”
He added: “Staff are also working to answer the thousands of telephone calls and correspondence emails being received, alongside contacting local businesses to access the funding they are entitled to during these difficult times.
“In the meantime, please bear with us – we know how important these grants are to businesses.”
The council is currently verifying 1,600 business bank details and asking other small businesses, who have not yet submitted their details, to come direct to its website at cheshireeast.gov.uk/covidbusinessrates where qualifying businesses can fill out their correct bank details so they can receive their grant money.
Businesses are strongly advised to not use an agent to complete these simple forms and, instead come direc, to ensure 100% of grant funds are received by businesses at this difficult time.