Applications for business grants system now live in Lewes

Businesses have been asked to be patient and ‘don’t worry’ as online applications opened for  coronavirus grants in Lewes.

Thursday, 9th April 2020, 5:06 pm
Lewes District Council Southover House SUS-190904-113441001

This morning (Thursday, April 9), Lewes District Council opened online applications to the government grants intended to support businesses through the coronavirus crisis.

The grants – of either £10,000 or £25,000 – are open to both small businesses and those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £51,000. 

To apply visit the Lewes District Council website here: www.lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk/businessgrants.

As the application system went live, the council’s deputy leader James MacCleary asked businesses to be patient with the system, as the high number of visitors could affect its performance.

Speaking during the council’s daily broadcast on Facebook Live, Cllr MacCleary said: “We have had some technical problems with it this morning. It is not just going live on the software. It is going live with a number of councils simultaneously.

“One of the other councils put a lot of applications through this morning and it knocked the whole system over for a while. But we are told it is live again now, so if you haven’t made your application yet, get on there.

“I would say there will be a rush to do it early, don’t worry if you can’t get your application in immediately. Because of the bank holiday payments will be made at the same time no matter when you do it. 

“Do get on there, make your applications as early as you can, but please don’t worry if it’s being very slow.

“As I said this is being used by a number of councils simultaneously, so imagine it as a kind of funnel and it is having a lot of stuff pushed through it right now. It is a bit slow, it has had a few little glitches.

“Please be patient with us, if it is not working the moment you click on it, do not worry. It is the bank holiday weekend [and] we are paying by BACS transfer … it’ll take three working days, so it will make no difference to when you get your money, if you make the application now or at four o’clock this afternoon.”

The application system goes live after a public spat between the council and Lewes MP Maria Caulfield over the speed at which the system was brought into force. 

Ms Caulfield had criticised the council for not accepting applications as soon as other councils, whereas council leaders said any delay was as a result of the government changing its guidance on which businesses would be eligible for the money. 

With the scheme live, however, Lewes District Council is now expected to award more than £20m of grants to support businesses hit by the coronavirus crisis.

The grants actually come under two schemes; one for small businesses and another for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure industries.

Under the small business fund, all eligible businesses receiving either small business rates relief or rural rates relief will be eligible for a payment of £10,000.

Eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors can get a grant of either £10,000 or £25,000, depending on their size.

Businesses with a property that has a rateable value of up to £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000, while those with a rateable value of more than £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.

Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or over are not eligible for this scheme, nor are businesses which are not ratepayers in the business rates system.

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