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Chamber urges businesses to apply for new coronavirus grants

Rob Johnston

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce is urging businesses to apply for a new coronavirus grant that is only available for a limited period.

The Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund has been set up in direct response to lobbying by Cumbria Chamber and other Chambers of Commerce to plug gaps in business support.

Grants up to £25,000 are available to businesses with fewer than 50 staff that haven’t received either the Coronavirus Small Business or Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grants.

Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “We’ve come across many businesses that, through no fault of their own, were refused coronavirus grants.

“Sometimes they fell foul of the eligibility criteria because their name wasn’t on the business rates bill – their landlord paid instead – or their rateable value was above the threshold.

“We’ve also spoken to B&Bs that didn’t qualify because they were paying council tax rather than business rates.

“We and other Chambers lobbied government ministers to help these businesses. We made the case directly to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, in his role as lead for the Northern Powerhouse, and this scheme is the Government’s response.

“We are delighted that they listened. These grants could make the difference between survival and going under for some.”

Each district council has been given a pot of money to distribute at their discretion. They are inviting businesses to apply this week and next. They will then assess the applications and award as many grants as they can.

Rob said: “If demand is high there will be few if any grants of £25,000, the maximum under the scheme, but we expect to see plenty around the £10,000 mark.”

Businesses must complete an online application from the relevant local authority – Allerdale, Barrow, Carlisle, Copeland, Eden or South Lakeland.

Rob added: “The deadline for applications varies and isn’t always clear on the councils’ websites.

“For example, Eden’s applications close at midnight on June 14, Carlisle’s at noon on June 15 and Allerdale’s at 5pm on June 15. To be on the safe side, we’re advising businesses to apply by June 14.”

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