LOCAL businesses have received more than £40 million in Covid Support grants paid out by Wealden District Council since April.

Some 246 business benefited from Discretionary Grants Scheme devised by the Council to meet the special circumstances of Wealden businesses.

This resulted in more that £2.6 million of extra support finding its way into the local economy.

This is on top of the £38.5 million which Wealden District Council paid out through the Government’s Small Business and Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Grants.

“Council officers have worked long and hard to ensure that financial support is provided to all sectors of our local economy during the ongoing Covid Crisis,” said Council Leader Bob Standley.

“At short notice, and in difficult circumstances, they had to take on extra responsibilities to make sure this vital support got through. I have been impressed with this tremendous effort.

A major challenge

“For all local businesses, Covid continues to be a major challenge. For some of our local entrepreneurs and their employees, it threatens their livelihoods. Wealden will continue to provide support and advice where it is able. Together with other local authorities, we are lobbying to ensure aid is directed to where it is needed, and the measures are put in place for a sustained recovery.

“In July we launched our free Fast Track Planning Service to enable local businesses to respond quickly to the new social distancing measures required by Covid-19. Our Environmental Health team continues to provide advice and guidance to ensure venues can safely make the most of their opening hours. We will shortly be launching a campaign to reassure the public about shopping locally. This will use the Government’s Re-opening the High Street Safely Fund.

“Nearly all the shops and businesses in the District remain open. We are taking measures to ensure shopping locally continues to be a safe and enjoyable experience in the coming months. Our long-term aim is to create the right conditions for more new businesses to open or relocate in our District. We have outlined our plans in the Council’s Covid Restart and Recovery Plan, which can be found on the Wealden website.

“I know it continues to be a struggle for many businesses. We will do whatever we can to support you.”

Following Government guidance, the Discretionary, the Small Business, and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants closed for new applications at the end of August 2020.

Making full use of grants available

The Council continued to process outstanding claims for these grants during September. A total of £2,651,000 was paid to 246 Wealden businesses through the Discretionary Grants scheme, making use of all the money that had been allocated to us. A further 50 applications did not meet the necessary criteria for this scheme

A further £26,600,000 was paid out to 2,600 businesses through the Small Business Grants Scheme and £11,990,000 was paid out to 668 concerns under the Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Grants Scheme.