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Thousands of businesses benefit from £28m in grants

Thousands of city small businesses have been given almost £28m in grants to help support them through the Coronavirus pandemic

Office - Block A Penllergaer Business Park

The Welsh Government launched the small business grants scheme on April 1 to help businesses across Wales access emergency funding and in Swansea more than 2,100 saw payments approved in under a fortnight.

Now the council is taking further steps to deal with applications from those businesses which have applied for grants but may not be eligible in the first instance under the Welsh Government rules set out for the scheme.

The move comes on the day the Welsh Government opens applications for its £400m Economic Resilience Fund (ERF) - a new scheme aimed at providing more support to micro, small and larger businesses alike.

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said the council had worked flat-out to distribute funds to those businesses who were eligible for payments under the small business grants scheme and had provided the necessary information.

"It has been an incredible effort so far. We have drafted in more staff to help us process applications and deal with queries. The Welsh Government made an initial allocation of £28m to us and we have passed £27.9m of it on to businesses in less than a fortnight.

"We know there will be more money to come to us from the Welsh Government which is why we will continue to pay out on this scheme to eligible businesses from our own resources for the time being.

He said: "Now, like other councils in Wales, our teams are now moving on to assess those businesses whose applications are less straightforward because we need more information or because they might not eligible under the rules set out by the Welsh Government.

"Our staff will be writing to these businesses directly and our ambition is to push these applications and decisions through as quickly as we can so that businesses can get paid or find out where they stand."

The small business support scheme was one of a wave of UK and Welsh Government projects  launched following their decision to put Britain into an unprecedented lockdown to help beat Coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives.

Under the business grants scheme, any business currently liable for business rates and entitled to small business rate relief is entitled to a grant. As long as the council was given correct bank details, grants were paid.

However, a few hundred of the thousands of applications which came in included some which needed further investigation and of those which are found to be eligible will be paid as quickly as possible.

Cllr Stewart said: "The council will continue to pull out all the stops to support our local businesses and ensure they get the funds which we are administering as quickly as possible.

"Although the Welsh Government rather than local councils is managing payments out of the ERF, it is another potential lifeline for Swansea businesses and well worth looking at."

To help businesses chart their way through grant and loan opportunities Swansea Council has up web pages highlighting all the other opportunities for business support that are available.

This can be found at: www.swansea.gov.uk/covid19adviceforbusinesses.

Grant applications can be made online www.swansea.gov.uk/coronavirusbusinessgrant

In addition the Welsh Government set up its own website to share the other measures it was taking to support business at: businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice


FAQs

Can I still apply for a business grant?

Yes. The Welsh Government is funding the scheme and have advised us that it has put a cut-off date of March 31, 2021. If you are eligible, we will ensure your application is processed and paid as quickly as possible.

It feels like it's taken a long time to process applications so far. Why is that?

We understand the anxiety experienced by small businesses. We are all in an unprecedented situation. Even though the small business grant scheme was announced earlier, the scheme did not open until April 1. Like all other councils we were inundated with thousands of applications on day one, some plainly entitled to a grant, others not so. We drafted-in extra staff to help us deal with them despite the tremendous pressure on council services to protect social care, support the NHS and help them save lives. It's a significant effort to have paid out on more than 2,200 applications in a fortnight.

My business has made an application for a grant and I've not been paid. What are the reasons why I might not have been paid or may not be eligible?

The overwhelming majority of applicants have been paid. Some applications require further investigation. Among the reasons could be:

  • The business was not liable for business rates and therefore not eligible under the scheme
  • It did not provide bank details
  • It had a rateable value too high to be eligible
  • It had a rateable value between £12,001 and £51,000 but is not eligible for a grant because they do not operate in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors and provide services to visiting members of the public.

So, if I've not yet received a payment, what happens next?

We have not abandoned your application. We want to carry out more checks so that, if at all possible, we can process a payment. To do this we will contact you to get any further information needed to make a decision.

Is there anything more I can do?

You can email the team on business.rates@swansea.gov.uk for an update. But please be patient and bear in mind the team is concentrating on paying grants. Even though we have drafted in additional staff to support our work, responses still could take time.

What if it turns out I'm not eligible for a small business grant?

While you are waiting for a decision from us, you don't have to stand still. Consider applying under other measures announced by Welsh Government for support.  Details of those measures can be found here businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice 

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