Staff working over the weekend in bid to process grants for businesses

Staff at West Suffolk Council will be working this weekend in an effort to get grants out to eligible businesses by the end of the month.

The Government has said it wants councils to have paid out the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Grant by April 30 and it is unclear if businesses will still be able to get the grant after this date.

West Suffolk Council had already redeployed staff to phone, email and message eligible businesses on social media, encouraging them to take up the grants.

So far it has paid out £25m to more than 2,000 local businesses but hundreds more haven’t yet responded.

With premises shut, and many businesses having to adapt their operations, the council is urging businesses who are entitled to the grants to complete an online form.

Businesses can check if they are eligible and complete the form at https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/coronavirus/covid-19businessgrants.cfm

For those that have already submitted the form, the council is prioritising the payment of their grants.

Leader of West Suffolk Council John Griffiths said: “We will have staff giving their time again to work this weekend, to phone, email and search online including the various forms of social media to reach eligible businesses.

“We are doing all we can and have so far paid out more than £25 million to more than 2,000 West Suffolk businesses and have received many messages of praise, some of which we have shared on social media. We are also dealing with a number of queries from businesses and trying to help them access grants.

“But there remain hundreds of businesses that we have tried to contact, but have simply not replied. We do not want them to miss out.”

In an effort to reach the remaining businesses who haven’t yet been in touch, the council is highlighting some of the praise it has received from those receiving the grant.

Leesa Grinling, of Lox Hairdressers, in Mildenhall, emailed to say: “We have received our small business grant today and I just wanted to write and say a big thank you for your help.”

John Kennedy, chairman of Brandon Town Bowling Club, said: “The efficiency in processing the grant is very impressive. So on behalf of all my members, we will toast you when we are all back together. Thank you so much.”

And Piers Hart, of Piers Hart and Company, in Barnham, said: “The speed with which you have done this is quite frankly jaw-dropping! Thank you so much. Stay well.”

Chris Page, of Page Fine Jewellery, in Newmarket, said: “A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”

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