Around 40 local businesses have been among the first in Torridge to benefit from the Government-backed discretionary grant fund.

Torridge District Council has paid out £200,000 in grants ranging from £1,000 to £25,000 to the first wave of applicants who applied under the scheme.

The latest support package has been aimed at small and micro businesses which were not eligible for other methods of support.

Authorities were asked to prioritise certain sectors such as bed and breakfasts, market traders with fixed costs and charity properties.

Councils have also been given the discretion to prioritise funding for important sectors of the local economy, with North Devon and Torridge deciding to support manufacturing, food and drink, creative industries and tourism.

In Torridge, the breakdown of payments so far has seen £169,500 go to those local priority businesses.

A total of £7,000 has gone to businesses in shared accommodation, £2,000 for market traders and £21,500 to bed and breakfast businesses.

Torridge District Council leader, Councillor Ken James, said: “ “Once again our officers and partners at North Devon+ have pulled out all the stops to get this new round of funding distributed as quickly as possible.

“This was vitally important as some of these businesses had not qualified for any previous grants and therefore had very little, if any, financial support since the crisis started back in March.

“Hopefully with a gradual easing on restrictions we can start breathing life back into our economy and peoples livelihoods.

“While we still need to remain vigilant against a resurgence of the virus, it’s also time to continue our focus on supporting local businesses.”

Businesses can still apply for grants, with the first window of applications open until July 3.

For more information, visit the Torridge District Council website.