How councils in West Sussex are working ‘around the clock’ to get vital grants to businesses

Councils across West Sussex have been working ‘around the clock’ to get vital grants into the hands of small business owners in the county.

Businesses in Worthing's Montague Street

The emergency grants, which were announced by the Government in mid March, will help secure ‘a strong and robust economy to bounce back with once restrictions ease’, according to Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses.

“For many small businesses, access to these grants will decide the fate of their futures, and it’s excellent to see so many local authorities across England getting the money into the hands of those who need it most,” he said.

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Qualifying small organisations will receive a grant of £10,000, while eligible operators in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will receive grants of up to £25,000.

Councils have faced a daunting task in setting up and administering the scheme in just a matter of weeks, according to a Local Government Association spokesman, Richard Watts.

But those in West Sussex have already distributed millions to thousands of businesses in their areas – and are urging those yet to apply to get in touch without delay.

By the end of last week, Adur and Worthing Councils had paid all of the 2,100 organisations that had applied to them for a grant – distributing more than £25million and winning praise from the business secretary, Alok Sharma, who said: “I am extremely pleased to see that Adur and Worthing businesses have already received grants totalling over £25 million and I thank the councils for their hard work.”

The councils are now urging the 400 eligible organisations who have been contacted but are yet to come forward to receive the grants, to get in touch here.

These include community groups, charities and sports clubs, as well as firms which have business rate accounts but do not pay any rates, a spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Haywards Heath Business Association, Clare Jones, has praised Mid Sussex District council for working ‘night and day’ to meet the complex needs of the local business community.

As of Monday, the council had paid out nearly £21million to 1,624 local businesses.

Ms Jones said: “Every business has its own unique set of circumstances and challenges in meeting the different grant criteria.

“To help local businesses individual council members have made themselves exceptionally accessible to business owners at this time to assist them with finding out to what they are entitled and to submit claims for grants that have the best chance of success.”

Councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards, leader of Mid Sussex District council, said the support grants were ‘so important’ to local businesses during the crisis – and called on any businesses that think they might be eligible for grants to apply now, by visiting this site.

Elsewhere in the county, Arun District Council confirmed that, as of Monday, it had paid out a total of £22.6million in grants to eligible small businesses and has processed 70 per cent of the applications it had received.

It urged local businesses who may be eligible to apply online here.

Crawley Borough District has paid a total of £10.4m in grants to 719 businesses so far.

Meanwhile, Horsham District Council has processed 1,775 small business grants for eligible businesses – paying out a total of £22.24 million.

A spokesman said: “We have identified that some 550 eligible local small businesses have not yet applied for these grants and we are currently telephoning these organisations to offer further support and guidance.

“We would urge all organisations which are liable for business rates with a low rateable value, perhaps a village hall, sports facility or similar, to come forward and make an application.

“Additionally, businesses from the leisure, hospitality and retail sectors are also encouraged to apply for business support.”

Eligible organisations can apply by going online to Horsham District Council’s website here.

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