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Coronavirus: Councils Delivered Business Support of Over £9.2 Million So Far

West Devon Borough and South Hams District Councils have handed out essential funding of over £9.2 million received from the Government to support local businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).

Image of money in notes and coins

This is providing a crucial lifeline to businesses in the current economic climate, and will help the local economy to survive. 

Across the two Councils, £9.2 million is on its way to 703 businesses in the South Hams and West Devon so far.

This is the conclusion of, what has been, a complex and difficult process since the measure was announced in the Budget.  During that period the Councils have taken over 12,000 calls from businesses and sent out nearly 5,500 letters to eligible businesses for business grants. 

With over 2,500 applications received so far, there has been a Herculean effort by the Councils to get essential funding out to those who urgently need it, since the Councils received the funding from the Government on 1 April.

If you haven't yet applied for your grant on the Councils' websites, please do so as soon as possible so that they can process your claim. You will need your unique reference number from the letter sent to your business rate contact address to be able to apply online.

South Hams and West Devon's voices are being added to those of neighbouring councils Devon, Plymouth and Torbay in lobbying Government over the severity of the economic situation for Devon.  They reinforce the report from neighbouring councils in calling for Government to support those businesses who don't fit into any of the support measures already announced.

This includes a £40 million Response and Recovery Fund which is flexible enough to allow funding grants for small businesses missing out on Government support.  Also being lobbied for are loans for businesses with a turnover over £45 million, along with a request for speeding up support for the self-employed. 

Cllr Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council, said: "I'm pleased to say that all letters to businesses who may be eligible for funding grants have now gone out.  Due to security processes, you will have to pick up your letter from your place of business but if this is difficult, call us and we will make other arrangements.  Our officers have worked long hours over the weekend to work through the payments as quickly as possible and the first payments have now gone out electronically, direct into bank accounts.  Businesses will receive an email when their payment has been authorised but it will take two days for the money to reach their bank accounts.

"We absolutely feel the frustration of those businesses who fall between the gaps of the current funding packages available, simply because their rates and rent are combined or because they sit just outside of the Government's thresholds for grants.  We want to assure you that we have not forgotten about you and we are heavily lobbying Government to find a solution to help you get the support you need."

Cllr Neil Jory, Leader of West Devon Borough Council, added: "We fully understand that time is of the essence to help businesses to survive in the current climate and I urge everyone to support our local businesses who are still able to operate to help them to stay afloat.  If we don't support them through this crisis, they will most certainly struggle to survive, so let's rally round them.

"We also know that some businesses still need workers such as crop pickers which are desperately needed at the moment to harvest crops so they don't get wasted.  We're currently working out how to put those people in need of short term work in touch with the businesses who currently have work available." 

The Councils encourage anyone who needs support to engage with them through their website and they will respond as quickly as they can.  

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Issued: 6 April 2020

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