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Guildford Virus Business Grants Worth £15.6 Million ‘Up For Grabs’

Published on: 23 Apr, 2020
Updated on: 25 Apr, 2020

The GBC website page on which business grant applications can be made. Click on the image to link.

By Hugh Coakley

The borough council, holding £22 million in government grants for Guildford’s 1,750 eligible businesses in retail, leisure and hospitality, is encountering a slow response. So far, only £6.4 million has been paid out to 441 businesses suffering the financial impact of coronavirus. 

In an appeal, the council said to qualify the rateable value of your business must be below £51,000 and you must be the business ratepayer, filling in the application form on the GBC website. Grants of either £10,000 or £25,000 are available, depending on your rateable value. Please make sure the council has an email address for your business, otherwise we can only write to the business postal address we have on file.

Business owners should read the guidance and complete the claim form on the website at www.guildford.gov.uk/busgrant. Once your application is complete, it usually takes about a week for payment to be made to your account but in some cases in a few days. You will be sent confirmation of payment by letter or email, but please check your bank account regularly.

But some business are reluctant to apply. Some in food and drink retail and delivery are reporting an upsurge in trade, as well as those in services such as plumbing and other utilities. Others may be awaiting information from national associations or “head office”.

Redber Coffee owner Graham Jones said: “I am aware of the government support I’m not aware of this grant through the council. We are limping along at the moment but we hope to be up and running again in June or July when the offices open.”

Chris Harlow, the owner of Electric Bikes, said: “Initially the message was that people did not need to do anything. Maybe businesses don’t know that they have to apply.”

Another business owner said: “We don’t feel that we are in a position to take it up as our business is continuing. We are struggling a bit but we are getting by. Time will tell. If the lockdown goes on much longer, we may have to apply.”

Amanda Masters

Amanda Masters of Experience Guildford which supports Guild’s businesses asked why more applications had not been made said: “The short answer is, we don’t know why the take-up is only around 25% so far.

“The businesses we are speaking to daily are all telling us they have applied if they are eligible.

“Could it be that some of the businesses are nationals and therefore their head office will be dealing with it all? I guess if you have stores or offices all over the UK there will be a lot of applications to get through to each individual local authority.”

“GBC has been working very hard under an immense amount of pressure to get in touch with everybody who might be eligible. We helped out by contacting some of our members that the council couldn’t reach by post – no point posting a letter to an empty unit! – and so as we often are in touch with them by email, we offered to assist getting the news out them quickly. Also, it has been in our daily e-comms for well over a week now.”

Cllr Joss Bigmore

Joss Bigmore (R4GV, Christchurch), lead for Finance and Assets, Customer Services, said: “There is money available to help your business through this challenging time. Please make sure you apply for help. It’s easy to do online and we are working hard to identify and contact those businesses who haven’t applied yet for the money they are entitled to.

“Make sure you include your business email address when you apply so we can speed up the process, otherwise we will send post to your business address and while we are in lockdown picking up your post may not be easy.

“My advice is please read the guidance then apply. We are also phoning businesses and have redeployed extra staff for because we are committed to making sure everyone who can receive this funding is made aware of it. Many we have spoken to were not aware they could claim and have been very grateful for the opportunity to receive the grant.

“There are local businesses that will not qualify for this special government help for various reasons and in these cases we advise them to contact our business support partners The Enterprise M3 Growth Hub, Surrey Chambers of Commerce and for those trading internationally, the Department of International Trade, for other forms of support and advice.”

Council Leader Caroline Reeves

Council leader Caroline Reeves (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolals), said: “While we continue to provide essential services for our residents and prioritise resources to ensure our most vulnerable groups are protected, supporting our local businesses is also crucial. It will remain a focus in the coming days and weeks while we begin to plan our borough’s recovery.

“The social and economic impact of the outbreak cannot be underestimated. We are proud to be a vibrant borough with such a broad range of growth sectors from gaming, cybersecurity, life sciences and telecoms. More than 70 companies (10% of the UK’s games industry) from giants such as Wargaming UK, Lionhead, Media Molecule, EA Games and Supermassive to progressive independents such as Glowmade are based in Guildford.

“We are also a key player in the space sector with the world leading centre for space engineering based at the University of Surrey campus and key businesses including Surrey Satellite Technology, Earth-I and isardSAT at the Research Park and we are committed to ensuring our businesses can find a way through this emergency.”

Businesses who are not eligible for government grant funding can contact these organisations for help and support.

https://www.enterprisem3growthhub.co.uk/

https://www.surrey-chambers.co.uk/

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-international-trade

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