North Devon Council is asking local businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis to be patient as it works to distribute support grants.

The council has bought a new software system to help it distribute the Business Support Grants of £10,000 and £25,000 made available by the Government.

It said once it is ready it will enable payments to be made ‘as soon as possible’ to eligible businesses later this week.

North Devon Council leader, Councillor David Worden, said he understood patience ‘may be running thin’.

“We want our local businesses to know that we are working really hard to get government grants to them as swiftly as possible,” he said.

“In order to enable these payments we have had to buy in new software, which has to be implemented and tested before we can use it.

“We fully appreciate how hard this is for local businesses but the software we are using will see payments start being made in the coming days once we have validated your business information.

“We understand that your patience may be running thin but we assure you that our officers are working their hardest to sort this out for you and the thousands of other businesses these grants will be paid to in North Devon, trying to put a system in as quickly as possible that two weeks ago didn’t even exist.

“These things normally take months of implementation and our staff are working over and above to get it ready in a matter of days so please, please, be patient for just a few more days.”

The council said it will be advising all businesses via its website on how to provide their details when the payments are ready to go.

The grants have been made available by central government to support the many small businesses which pay little or no business rates because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR).

The government has promised to provide £10,000 cash grants to businesses across the country which are currently eligible for either SBRR or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs.

A £25,000 grant will also be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.