Hundreds of Oldham businesses could be missing out on cash grants to help support them during the coronavirus pandemic.
Oldham Council is distributing Small Business and Retail, Leisure and Hospitality grants with more than 3,000 local businesses benefitting so far and over £34.8 million paid out to date.
But many eligible businesses have still not applied for the grants which could see them receive either £10,000 or £25,000.
Cllr Abdul Jabbar, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Services, said: “These grants are designed to protect businesses and save jobs across the borough. You must meet the eligibility criteria and provide some key information, but they are not a loan and do not need to be paid back.
“We don’t want anyone who is eligible to miss out so it’s really important that you visit www.oldham.gov.uk/cashgrants and submit information so we can help you.
“If you don’t have internet access or need any support with the application, call 0161 770 6677 to speak to the team.”
A cash grant of £10,000 is available for eligible small businesses who on 11 March 2020 were entitled to Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief.
Eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector will receive a cash grant of either £10,000 or £25,000 per property if the rateable value of their property is under £51,000.
Westwind Productions is among the local businesses to receive a small business grant and company director Wendy Cooper has encouraged others to apply.
She said: “The grant is very much appreciated, and needed, to keep our business afloat throughout lockdown. My business is non-essential and currently closed, and it will help tremendously to keep our overheads covered and staff and suppliers paid throughout the lockdown period.”
Garry Hallas Chartered Surveyors has also received a cash grant. Director Garry Hallas said: “It will be a considerable benefit in helping to keep the company operational until it is possible to recommence trading. If you think you could be eligible then these grants really could be a lifeline for your business.”
The grants are just a small part of the support package available to help businesses during the pandemic.
One of the latest schemes is the bounce back loan which is now open for applications via the bank with which you have a business account. The fast-tracked scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 with the cash available within days.
The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.
It doesn’t matter whether you have received a cash grant or not – you can still apply for a bounce back loan.
Government has also recently announced a new discretionary top-up fund to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant scheme. At present, the details of the scheme have not been announced, just some high-level indications of which businesses it is aimed to support.
As soon as guidance is released, we will update the council website with details and will let businesses know how to access and where to get help if there are queries.
Cllr Jabbar added: “We know there are a number of small businesses in Oldham who have found that they do not meet the criteria of the cash grants scheme – such as those who pay business rates via their landlord.
“We have been lobbying government to recognise this anomaly and I’m sure the top up scheme will be welcome news.
“We are still awaiting further guidance from government and will provide an update when this is available.”
Visit www.oldham.gov.uk/coronavirus for all the latest local information on coronavirus.