More than £36m paid to Suffolk firms in grants as lockdown hits business

West Suffolk Council has paid out almost �20m in business grants. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

West Suffolk Council has paid out almost �20m in business grants. Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

Two Suffolk councils have handed out government grants totalling more than £36m to help small businesses during the coronavirus crisis.

East Suffolk and West Suffolk councils have made the grants to thousands of businesses in their areas in a bid to ensure they can survive and return to trading once the crisis has passed.

Nearly £19.5m in business support grants has been paid out so far by West Suffolk Council to help 1,657 businesses survive the Covid19 crisis while East Suffolk Council has paid out grants to 1,409 businesses, worth a total of £16,685,000.

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East Suffolk has already contacted more than 7,000 small businesses who they believe may be eligible for a grant from the retail, hospitality and leisure fund. If all information provided as part of the application is accurate and up to date, payments are processed in around five to six working days.

Craig Rivett, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “We know this is a very difficult time for a lot of our businesses, and we are committed to doing all we can to support them through this.

“We have received just under 3,500 applications to date, and our staff have been working extremely hard to process these and pay out the grants as fast as they can, as we know these are a lifeline to many businesses.

“It is important to understand that these grants are not loans that will need to be paid back, and they can make the difference between a business closing or surviving. We want our businesses to come out the other end in the strongest possible position to recover, therefore, I urge all small and medium businesses who haven’t yet, to check if they are eligible for these grants.”

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West Suffolk has redeployed staff and continues to make grant payments to businesses a priority. It had a rota of staff working over the Easter weekend and is processing payments daily as more businesses return their forms.

West Suffolk council leader John Griffiths said: “We know how anxious businesses are to get this support as quickly as possible and have made getting this grant to them, alongside £34m of rate relief support, a priority.

“We have had much-appreciated feedback from many firms receiving the grant, recognising the tremendous efforts that our West Suffolk Council staff have made to contact businesses and make payment as swiftly, and as simple, as they possible can.”