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High demand in north for Covid-19 business grant scheme


By Alan Hendry

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Highland Council has issued a 'lockdown' statement
Highland Council has issued a 'lockdown' statement

HIGHLAND Council is seeing a high demand for its Covid-19 business grant scheme.

On Friday alone, grants were awarded to 233 businesses to the value of £2.84 million which took the overall total to more than 1000 businesses and the value of grants secured to over £12.8m.

Over the coming week the local authority is planning to increase the team involved in dealing with the grants as it seeks to move towards the processing of more than 350 awards per day.

The council said in a statement: "Reflecting the financial crisis generated by Covid-19, it is not surprising that within days of the grant scheme being launched on March 24 thousands of applications were received. This then increased again when the Scottish Government opened the scheme to self-catering businesses, creating a significant backlog of applications.

"The applications are being processed in date order received and hence it is regrettable but inevitable that not all the applications will be processed within the 10 working days target.

"In response to businesses wanting to know when their application for grant will be processed, over the coming week the council will be focusing on dealing with the backlog and ensuring that all applications received are complete with the evidence required. We will then be getting back in touch and letting business know that their application has been received and is being processed.

"On April 14 the Scottish Government announced a second phase of funding. This new package of measures includes £120 million to extend the Small Business Grant scheme to ensure that, in addition to a 100 per cent grant on the first property, small business rate payers will be eligible to a 75 per cent grant on all subsequent properties.

"A further £100 million fund is also being made available to protect self-employed people and viable micro and SME businesses in distress due to Covid-19.

"Applications for the £100 million fund will be open by the end of the month, and the new arrangements for the Small Business Grant will be in place to receive applications on May 5."

Details on the Small Business Grant and application forms can be found on the council website.

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