April 6, 2020 @ 12:11 by Richard Dawson
Local authorities up and down the country are responsible for the roll out of the Government’s Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund and North Tyneside has hit the ground running.
The council has received more than 1500 online applications for funding after launching on March 27 and to date has processed 1200 of those.
This is the equivalent of around £14 million in grants to help those businesses most affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
A number of applications did not meet the grant criteria or are subject to review as additional information is required.
Two local businesses, both members of the North Tyneside Business Forum, have said that the swift turnaround from application to cash in the bank has been a lifeline.
John Evans owns the Treehouse soft play centre in Whitley Bay and has had to close since the COVID-19 outbreak.
He said: “The two biggest overheads for our business is the wages and rent. When the Chancellor announced that we might be eligible for a grant it was something I looked into straight away.
“We can’t provide a takeaway service or run online so our income is zero and will be until we re-open. Knowing that there would be some money coming into the business to help with these payments was a huge help.
“It means we won’t have to worry about paying the rent so we can concentrate on looking after our family for as long as this lasts.
“It only takes two minutes to complete a form and you can claim your grant. This will be vital in helping your business survive over the coming months.”
Michael Maughan, own of Whitley Bay DIY and building materials firm, F E Maughan, added: “We are a family business and have been trading for over 80 years, we have never known anything like this.
“We are classed as an essential store and are doing the best we can trying to serve our customers with a click & collect service, we are still delivering which is limited as we only have one van.
“We’ve had to make some valuable members of staff on furlough so the quicker everything gets back to normal the better.
“Fortunately though, the grant application was dealt with very quickly and we are really pleased with the whole process.”
North Tyneside elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn, said: “It is wonderful to hear that some of our local businesses have already benefitted from this funding which will prove a lifeline to them and their families.
“I am so proud of our hard-working teams for turning around these payments so quickly as I know how important this is to those who are applying.
“There are up to 3,000 businesses in the borough who are eligible for these grants and I would urge everyone to make sure they apply as we need our fantastic traders to not only survive these challenging times but to thrive again once we get back to normality.”