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Council working flat-out for small businesses

SWANSEA Council is working flat-out to support small businesses applying for a range of Welsh Government grants and other support announced over the last two weeks.

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Thousands of small businesses have made applications in the last week and the council is arranging to make payments totalling more than £21m to more than 1,500 of them in the coming days.

However, businesses are being urged to be patient while a mountain of applications are sorted and payments made.

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said: "We are in unprecedented times and I want to reassure businesses that we are there for them. Most of the schemes announced by the Welsh Government started three days ago on April 1.

"But our business support team has been working flat-out over the past week to process as many applications as possible as quickly as we can. More than 1,500 business are set to get payments shortly.

"This is just the start of the process. We are continuing to work very hard to ensure that eligible businesses can access the support they need.

"We're asking businesses to be patient. Some applications will take longer to process than others. Those which can be done quickly will be done quickly but others will take time.

"As with other local authorities in Wales, our staff are pulling out all the stops and this is being done while we too are affected by illness and absence due to coronavirus.

"That's while we're asking for understanding while we get through the mountain of applications we've received.

"We are also asking businesses to ensure they have accurately filled out application forms in full. Delays to payments are inevitable if owners don't make sure the information they provide is correct. Our teams also need to run checks so that fraudulent claims from scammers do not get through the net. All this takes time."

Over the last two weeks, the Welsh Government announced a string of measures to help Welsh business get through the crisis, including the £500m Economic Resilience Fund announced on Monday.

The measures support businesses listed on the business rates register and packages available include one-off grants to businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors that are liable for business rates as of 20th March 2020.

The council has set up a guide for small businesses on its website which outlines what's available and how to apply: www.swansea.gov.uk/covid19adviceforbusinesses

Grants of £25,000 are available to qualifying businesses with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000 and a grant of £10,000 for businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less. The same ratepayer may only receive the lower grant for a maximum of two properties in each Council's area.

Business owners who believe they are eligible for the grant are asked to complete it if they have not done so already. The form should be fully completed to avoid delays.

In many cases the council can make grant payments quickly because it already holds information about eligible businesses through the business rates system. Where business owners have not informed the council they have occupied business premises, or have not fully completed the online form with all the details needed, payments will take longer to process. Checks will be carried out to prevent the possibility of fraud and to ensure that the emergency payments reach those businesses that are entitled to them under the Welsh Government's rules.

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