355 small businesses in Plymouth, including local charities, B&Bs, nurseries and fishers, have been given a much-needed lifeline with funding from the Discretionary Grant Fund.

As part of the Plymouth City Council’s acute response for Resurgam, the city’s economic recovery plan, the grants were all allocated and paid out within a month, with the final payments being made this week. Thanks to the quick work of the Council almost 1,700 jobs have been protected through this grant scheme.

The Council was responsible for distributing the £2.27 million fund to support city businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund was quickly oversubscribed and had to close early after receiving 400 business applications for the limited pot of money.

The aim of the fund was to help businesses that weren’t eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, but which have significant fixed costs and desperately needed financial support.

A team of over 30 Council staff worked to verify and process applications quickly and manned a telephone helpline to support businesses with their applications, handling more than 370 queries during June.

Council Leader Tudor Evans said: “We’ve worked quickly and efficiently to get this much-needed financial support out to as many businesses as possible, as fast as possible. Our staff have worked incredibly hard to not only set up and handle the applications quickly, but also to score and evaluate them. We’ve supported our fishing community and visitor economy, as well as language schools, nurseries, charities and many other small businesses.

“We were always conscious that the demand was likely to outstrip supply and that turned out to be the case. We had to prioritise according to the Government guidelines to ensure the money went to those in most need, but we could have done so much more if we had been given access to more funding, or allowed to keep the under spend on the first grant scheme announced.

“We’ll continue to fight for our local businesses by lobbying for more financial support – although lock down measures are easing, this is far from over and we will do everything we can to protect Plymouth jobs and businesses.” 

The criteria of the fund were set nationally by Government, intended to support small businesses with less than 50 employees that have ongoing premises-related costs and which had suffered a drop in income due to the pandemic. Due to the limited nature of funds allocated to Plymouth, prioritisation was based strictly around the Governments outlined priority sectors with the addition in Plymouth of boat based businesses which represent a significant contribution to the local economy.

Grants paid to Plymouth businesses ranged from £1,000 to £25,000 and the applications were reviewed by a panel, with all businesses required to meet the same evidence based criteria.

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