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Small businesses get millions of pounds in support grants

HUNDREDS of city small businesses are seeing millions of pounds dropping into their bank accounts as Swansea Council works flat-out to support them during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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Already around £13.2m in grants has been paid out to businesses in the city under arrangements announced by the Welsh Government.

At least another £10m in grants are being approved and they should be arriving in accounts over the coming days.

However, businesses are being urged to be patient while a mountain of applications are sorted and payments continue to be 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 only last week.

"Our business support and Business Rates teams have been working flat-out over the past week to process as many applications as possible as quickly as we can."

More than 1,800 applications have been processed for payment worth a total of £24.3m. The council expects that figure to rise to £27m soon and claims for grants in total from Swansea to reach around £55m-£60m.

The Council is urging small businesses to request a grant payment via our online form if they have not done so already www.swansea.gov.uk/coronavirusbusinessgrant .

Queries about applications can be made by email only to business.rates@swansea.gov.uk but as staff are concentrating on making payments, a response may not be sent straight away.

Cllr Stewart said: "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.

 "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 do understand the concerns and anxiety caused by the Coronavirus pandemic for small businesses and we need people to be patient.

"Dealing with queries about payments not yet being made is preventing work being done to get payments processed."

Cllr Stewart added: "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."

Notes to editors:

The Welsh Government announced a string of measures to help Welsh business get through the crisis, including the £500m Economic Resilience Fund.

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.

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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