Small businesses across South Tyneside are being invited to apply for a one-off cash injection to help support them through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
South Tyneside Council has set up a new Small Business Hardship Grant Fund to help assist those small businesses which have fallen outside the scope for funding from Central Government's Covid-19 financial support schemes to date.
The Grant Fund is available to small firms that have been significantly impacted by the coronavirus restrictions and can demonstrate hardship, with one-off payments of £5,000 available.
It comes after careful consideration and discussions with businesses over recent weeks to ensure business funding is targeted where it is most needed.
Councillor Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "The Council has continued to listen to, and respond to, the needs of local businesses during these difficult times. Due to the limited resource available, we have had to make difficult decisions about how to prioritise and allocate the funding.
"However, we are really pleased to be able to open a new grant fund to support the many small businesses in South Tyneside that have suffered severely, and continue to do so, throughout the pandemic.
"Financial support is vital during these very difficult trading conditions and we don't want any businesses to miss out. For this reason, we have committed funding to help those small businesses that have not qualified for help under the Government's previous Covid-19 business support schemes.
"Businesses are the backbone of our local economy and we are here to support in any way we can. We hope that this cash injection will go some way to help ease the financial burden that our small businesses are facing.
"There is a limited amount of funding available, so not all those that apply will receive a grant. It is important that businesses check the criteria carefully. They could be eligible for a payment of £5,000."
Applications are open to South Tyneside-based businesses only and can be made via the Council's website at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/business from Thursday 4 March until 4pm on Monday 15 March.
Businesses which have already received Covid-19 financial support will not be eligible. Applications will be subject to an appraisal process, with grants provided at the Council's discretion. There will be no appeals process.
Sole traders, limited companies and limited liability partnerships;
Must be based in South Tyneside;
Employ less than ten people;
Must be currently trading (or would be if coronavirus restrictions were not in place) and have been trading before 11 March 2020;
Should be able to demonstrate ongoing business-related fix costs (excluding wages) amounting to a minimum of £200 per month;
Must have a business bank account or be able to demonstrate business transactions from a personal bank account;
Must be able to demonstrate a significant drop of income due to coronavirus restrictions;
Must be able to provide clear evidence they have not been able to access other grant schemes including Self-Employment Income Support; Local Restrictions Support; Additional Restrictions; Retail, Hospitality and Leisure; Local Authority Discretionary (Small Business Recovery Fund); Christmas Support Payment and Closed Business Support Payment.
South Tyneside Council set up a dedicated Business Support Hub at the start of the pandemic to help local firms unlock the Government grants and other vital financial aid.
It has already distributed more than £28m in grants to over 3,700 businesses in the Borough. The Council also continues to pay the Local Restriction Grant to businesses mandated to close under the current national restrictions.
The new Small Business Hardship Grant Fund will be funded through the Additional Restrictions Grant fund from Central Government, which is being used to extend local restrictions grant payments to businesses not within the business rates system and for future business recovery activity.
As well as distributing financial support, the Council has provided environmental health advice and guidance to businesses to ensure employees and their customers can operate in Covid-secure environments.