Firms given chance of more cash aid in latest Covid battle

North Devon Gazette

More businesses in the Torridge area are to be offered financial help in the latest fight against Covid.

Local councillors are still keen to ram home the message that Torridge currently remains open for business and that people should continue to support local traders with a #ShopLocal approach over the festive and New Year period

But, despite the renewed footfall and optimism around towns and high streets, the local authority is also aware that the turnover of some sectors of our economy may be vulnerable to the fallout from the spread of the recent Omicron variant.

Council leader Ken James is keen that where necessary businesses should continue to feel supported and make use of existing government backed grants managed and distributed by the council.

The discretionary Additional Restrictions Support Grant scheme has gone through several phases since it was introduced and was intended to help businesses that were previously either told to close or were able to trade but had lost business because of covid restrictions and didn’t qualify for the restart grant.

#Since it was implemented Torridge have distributed over £3.6 million in grants but around £228,000 still remains available.

Grants awarded under the current scheme are discretionary and calculated on an individual basis, with payments ranging between £250 and £6,000.

Councillors have decided that the scheme now needs to be broadened to channel funds to the most affected business sectors as soon as possible.

The council's urgency procedure has been invoked to widen the ARG policy to both business and non-business rate payers in the hospitality, leisure, personal care and travel sectors plus their supply chain.

The condition that businesses can't have received the restart grant or previous ARG funding has also been removed. There will also be funding for the self employed that have been told to self-isolate.

Cllr James said: "Councillors and officers have done an excellent job in supporting our businesses and individuals during the pandemic distributing funds to around 3,000 companies and coincidentally around 3,000 individuals as well.

"We recognise that some businesses are still finding the going tough and we want to make sure we distribute every last penny of the funding to those that need it. We would urge any eligible businesses in need of support check the eligibility criteria on the council's website from January 6 and follow the simple application process. We expect to start making payments under the new scheme shortly after the launch.”Â

The council will also be implementing further grants for businesses affected by the Omicron variant that the government announced just before Christmas. Businesses are being asked to also check back on these in early January when the council expects to have received the detailed guidance and eligibility, together with the funding allocations from the Government.