More firms need to come forward for coronavirus cash support

Newcastle City Council is urging all businesses who haven’t yet registered for grants to see them through the coronavirus crisis to check eligibility and sign up as quickly as possible.

Over 3,000 businesses have received nearly £40 million from Newcastle City Council to help keep businesses trading but there are many more – around one third of eligible businesses – which have yet to apply.

Grants of £10,000 or £25,000 are available for businesses who receive small business rate relief and those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. The grants are cash the government has set aside to help small businesses and does not need to be paid back. All remaining eligible businesses who haven’t registered for grants should register online at www.newcastle.gov.uk/covidbusinesssupport for fast access to funding made available from government.

One of the businesses which has benefited from the scheme is software company Nebula Labs, based in the city centre. Dylan McKee, co-founder said: “We recently received the government’s small business rates relief Covid-19 relief grant from Newcastle City Council.

“I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the process so far; it’s been fast and really efficient and only a minor number of forms to fill in which has been really good as a busy SME manager at this time.

“And having the grant processed so quickly, within five to ten days has been beneficial and allowed us to pay our suppliers and our city centre rent on time. And early on many occasions to our suppliers which is good as many of our suppliers are regional SME’s themselves or freelancers and it’s good to keep their cashflow going.

“And also it’s been great to be able to spend some of the grant on being able to afford further business development time so we come up with a plan to be able to get through these tough times and look ahead and work out how our business can change over the next few months to be more compatible with the new normal that we now live in, with distributed working, working remotely and working from home.

“So, thanks to the council team for really great work on efficient processing of the grant money.”

Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council said: “We’re committed to providing fast access to grants to help businesses like Dylan’s get through the coronavirus pandemic.

“Coronavirus isn’t just a health crisis, it’s also an economic crisis. We’re here to help businesses get through these difficult times and to protect our local economy, protect jobs and protect the future of our city.

“We are concerned that a number of businesses are yet to take advantage of the support available, so I’m urging all businesses to get in touch online so we can get these vital funds to your business. Our business support teams are processing applications as quickly as they can, typically within five to ten working days.

“We know these are difficult times for businesses but we’re here for you. Please don’t struggle in silence. Get in touch and we’ll get through this together.”

Newcastle City Council estimates that there are a third of businesses in the city which meet the government’s funding criteria and still need to register at www.newcastle.gov.uk/covidbusinesssupport so they can process their payment quickly.

They are receiving a high volume of applications, but business support teams are verifying and processing payments within five to ten working days. The business support teams are also offering help and advice through an online form.

Payments are made automatically into business bank accounts and business support staff will only contact businesses if there is an issue with their application. Newcastle City Council is asking businesses who have completed forms to check their bank accounts and only get in touch after the ten-day working period.

The webpage also has details of further government schemes and initiatives businesses may be able to access and what support is available.  This includes signposting businesses to the national schemes introduced by the Chancellor on 20 March, including the British Business Bank loans of up to £5 million, the commitment to cover 80% of retained workers’ salaries to stop job losses and delays to VAT payments.

For those retail, hospitality and leisure businesses who pay business rates, they will also be able to benefit from a 12-month payment holiday this financial year.

The council is working closely with a range of partners, including NE1 and NGI. Together they will support businesses across the city, proactively reaching out to eligible companies, signposting and gathering intelligence to help inform potential new packages where gaps are identified.

Advice for businesses is available at:  www.newcastle.gov.uk/covidbusinesssupport

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