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‘Don’t feel alone’ urges business which became case study for government fund

PUBLISHED: 09:45 21 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:58 21 May 2020

Jo Withers, managing director of VTM Versatile Telephone Marketing Ltd,

Jo Withers, managing director of VTM Versatile Telephone Marketing Ltd,

Jo Withers VTM

A phone marketing company has become a regional case study for a government grant scheme after its boss took to social media to urge others to take it up.

Jo Withers, managing director of VTM Versatile Telephone Marketing Ltd  Picture: JO WITHERS VTMJo Withers, managing director of VTM Versatile Telephone Marketing Ltd Picture: JO WITHERS VTM

Jo Withers, managing director of VTM Versatile Telephone Marketing Ltd, thanked West Suffolk Council by Instagram video for its speedy response to her application to the Small Business Grants Fund Scheme and encouraged her 394,500 followers to follow suit.

After it was seen by the Cabinet Office, the Bury St Edmunds firm became the only case study for the coronavirus crisis grants in the East Anglian region.

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“Seventy per cent of our customers have unfortunately closed the doors due to COVID-19,” she said. “I know we will be back with them shortly, but this grant has really helped us get through this tricky wave.

“I urge all business owners to talk to your local council and find out about the support out there.

“Don’t feel alone, speak with other business owners and your local chamber too.

“I’m determined VTM is going to come out of this stronger and better, but in the meantime let’s all do our best to support each other.”

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As of May 3, central government announced more than £8.6bn had been paid out to more than 697,000 business properties.

Councillor John Griffiths, leader of West Suffolk council, said the authority had recognised from the outset the importance of getting the funding to businesses quickly.

“We have so far been able to pay out close to £32m, helping more than 2500 West Suffolk businesses. We have received, and have much appreciated, lots of thanks and praise from businesses in return although perhaps none so high profile as the video posted by Jo from VTM and then highlighted as a government case study.

“We are continuing to do all we can, not just to contact and get the remaining grants to eligible businesses, but also to lobby government – with some success already – where more support is needed.”

Mrs Withers said businesses need to start thinking about their own plans post-pandemic – as failure to do so means they will commence from a standing start.

“Starting to plot re-opening plans and sales pipelines now means that businesses will be in a far better place to act when we are given more freedom to find our new working normality,” she said.

“This is going to make getting income through the door all the more harder and stall your ability to get your finances back to a more healthy position.”

VTM clients include Timberwolf, West Suffolk College and Supreme Petfoods.

You can watch Jo Withers’ video here

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