Hartlepool gets £32m in virus support - and counting
Businesses in Hartlepool have received around £32m in support through grants and rates relief during the coronavirus pandemic, new figures reveal.
Figures from the House of Commons Library show that 1,605 businesses in the area were identified as eligible for either a Small Business Fund grant or a help from the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Fund – with the Government initially allocating £20.9m to Hartlepool Borough Council to divide among companies.
By the time both schemes wrapped up in September, 1,587 firms had received £18.1m – 86% of the initial pot.
Firms excluded from these grants could still receive cash through a discretionary scheme – with councils able to award up to £25,000 to businesses.
The figures show Hartlepool Borough Council handed out 183 discretionary grants totalling £848,000 by the end of September.
Subsequent lockdowns prompted further Government support packages and, by January 17, the area had received another £1.7m, covering 1,414 business properties.
Pubs were also eligible for a one-off £1,000 payment if they were impacted by closures over Christmas and 75 had claimed the grant in area by mid-January and, since November, local authorities have also had powers to award further cash to businesses which have not benefited from other grant schemes.
Hartlepool Borough Council had given out 97 discretionary scheme grants by January 17 – totalling £127,333.
Business rate relief also meant that 412 eligible properties had been relieved of paying £11.1m, meaning businesses in the area have received around £32m in support so far – not including cash provided through the furlough scheme or the controversial Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
The Government's £5bn restart scheme – launched on April 1 – will see non-essential retail business able to access up to £6,000, while businesses in the hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym sectors will be eligible for grants of up to £18,000.
Councils have been urged in a letter to release grant funding to business owners “as soon as possible” to help boost the economy, after a warning that it had taken too long for previous funds to be released.
A spokesman for the Local Government Association said councils have had to come to terms with a "rapidly changing landscape and guidance" and are
"working fast to ensure businesses can receive funding as quickly as possible".