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Council announces latest Covid support fund changes

An updated round of support for businesses impacted by Covid-19 is set to be rolled out by Sunderland City Council, as it prepares to close the first phase of the successful funding package that has paid almost £2.3m in grants. 

The first three schemes, set up with funding from the Government’s Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG),  have provided much needed help to businesses in the non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure or accommodation sectors that do not have their own rateable value, as well as to direct suppliers to the hospitality and leisure sector.  This meant the council could offer the same levels of support to these two categories of businesses as those that meet the criteria for the Government’s Local Restriction Support Grant and Closed Business Lockdown payment schemes.   With over 370 applications already received, the schemes are set to be closed to applications from Thursday evening (February 18) to allow the council to target the next stage of ARG funding to a wider range of businesses hit by Covid-19. 

Businesses have until midnight on Thursday to make their application online for the first phase schemes.  Only one application form is needed across the three schemes and eligible businesses will then be allocated funding from each applicable schemes. 

A new scheme – which will distribute some of the remaining funding provided to the council as part of the ARG – is expected to go live the first week in March, with the council working through all applications to make payments as quickly as possible in the meantime.  More details of the Covid Resilience Grant – which will provide a one-off payment to qualifying businesses – will be shared on Sunderland City Council’s dedicated Covid-19 support webpage shortly. 

Peter McIntyre, executive director of city development at Sunderland City Council, said that the ARG scheme had paid out to scores of businesses impacted by regional and national lockdowns. 

He said: “We’ve been able to very quickly get funding out of the door and into the bank of those who need it most, and we’ll now be looking to direct much-needed funding towards other companies that have also been hit hard by the pandemic.”

As well as the three schemes that are closing on Thursday, the council recently launched a scheme using ARG funding to provide assistance to taxi drivers hit by the lockdown, with one-off £500 grants paid to eligible drivers.  Almost 600 payments have been made to taxi drivers to date and the scheme remains open to allow people to submit their application. 

The decision to close the first three programmes was taken to enable the council to allocate Additional Restrictions Grant funding to support a wider range of businesses that have been impacted by Covid-19, and the new business grant programme - the Covid Resilience Grant one-off payment – will replace it.

As well as ARG support, a range of Government funded schemes for eligible businesses with their own rateable values remain open to applications.  All businesses are encouraged to check if they are eligible and apply as soon as possible. 

Full details of support available to businesses at any given time – including links to online application forms for schemes administered by the Council - will continue to be shared on the council’s dedicated Covid-19 support page for businesses and employers, https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/covid-19business