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Thousands of businesses benefit from £43.7m in grants

Almost 3,500 city small businesses have been given more than £43.7m in grants to help support them through the Coronavirus pandemic.

BusinessMeeting

The Welsh Government launched the small business grants scheme last month to help businesses across Wales access emergency funding and in Swansea than 3,469 have benefited from the scheme so far.

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.

In just over a fortnight of launch more than 2,000 businesses received grants valued at almost £28m. The council is still paying out on applications and is urging any business which believes it might be eligible and has not yet applied, to get in touch.

Cllr Stewart said: "It has been an incredible effort so far. We 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 passed £27.9m of it on to businesses in less than a fortnight.

"Like other councils we are now assessing the applications of those businesses which 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 are 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 if not eligible for a grant."

The leader added that "Regrettably, we have identified a number of fraudulent applications for grants and our Fraud Team are investigating these to determine if an offence has been committed and will take the necessary action"

Russell Greenslade, Chief Executive of Swansea Business Improvement District, welcomed the council's effort to pay out the grants as quickly as possible.

He said: "These are challenging times for all businesses, small, medium and large. As an organisation BID is doing all it can to support city centre traders through this crisis so we can welcome shoppers and visitors back when the time is right.

"Since the same Local Authority team that works hard to process this support manages our BID levy we have delayed sending our BID levy notice for as long as we can, to enable this important rates and grant support to be delivered to businesses.

"Some shops in the city centre which are providing essential services are open but, naturally, most are closed to help people stay safe and to protect the NHS. The small business grants have been a lifeline and are helping protect jobs, businesses and the vitality of the city centre for the future."

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. Larger businesses operating in the retail, hospitality and leisure can also be entitled to a grant if they satisfy the necessary criteria.

Applications that are immediately eligible are being authorised for payment within 48 hours of being received although, like all other councils, an application will take longer where more details are needed.

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

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