Date Published: 16 May 2021
Businesses in North Kesteven have benefitted from more than £35 million in Covid business grants processed by the District Council.
The work, carried out by existing staff with only one full time temporary appointment and one extra part time post, has been applauded by Council Leader, Cllr Richard Wright.
“Local authorities across the UK were asked to distribute government funded Covid business grants from early Spring last year to help those required to close as a result of lockdown measures.
“This was a mammoth job which our staff responded to magnificently and our rates of giving money to eligible companies were consistently near 90% at all times and even in the early days of spring and summer 2020 the Council distributed more than £21 million to 1,910 businesses which was a wonderful achievement,” said Cllr Wright.
The vast majority of the work was picked up by staff who were also continuing with their normal work and the burden fell mainly on staff from the economic development and business rates teams supported by business support and customer services.
As the various grant schemes developed over the last year the process became more complicated as the national tier system was introduced followed by lockdown when more grants pots were available.
At one point 10 different grant schemes were operating simultaneously which added massively to the complexity of administering the grants.
Following the second lockdown in November, the Council has paid out more than a further £14 million taking the overall amount paid out since the start of the initial lockdown in Spring 2020 to £35,335,000.
The Council is also dealing with restart grants and other schemes and a final deadline for start up and recovery funds is expected in March next year.
Cllr Wright said: “There have inevitably been applications from businesses that have not been successful and that has put considerable pressure, both emotionally and in terms of work, on our staff.
“On behalf of the people of our district I want to thank everyone who has helped to get us where we are today.”
Delivery of grants is likely to continue until March next year although the focus is now very much on assisting businesses to re-open and restart trading rather than supporting them through lockdowns.
The Council is now exploring how the government’s Additional Restrictions Grant can best be used to support recovery and build existing and new markets.
Cllr Wright said: “The Council has already carried out a survey of the businesses it has supported to understand what their needs and future needs are and it is the intention to do this again to fully understand how grants have been used and crucially where support is needed in the future.”