Vital grants have now been paid to more than 3,000 Sandwell businesses – worth a total of £34.4 million – to help them during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
This means nearly 70% of grants requested by businesses have now been processed.
A number of small businesses that Sandwell Council identified as being potentially eligible for a grant have either said they don’t need to claim or have not yet responded to repeated council attempts to encourage them to apply.
Council Leader Councillor Yvonne Davies said: “We can only help those businesses that reply to us and apply for a grant, so if you think your business qualifies for one and you haven’t yet replied to us, please do get in touch as soon as possible.
“We have now processed 68% of requests we have received and I would like to thank our officers for working flat out to check and process thousands of applications to get these vital funds to our businesses.”
Any Sandwell businesses that believe they may be eligible for a grant but have not yet filled in the online form with their details should go to the council’s support for businesses webpage where they can check the qualifying criteria and complete the form to request a grant.
As of yesterday (Monday) afternoon, the council has paid 3,008 businesses, which breaks down as follows:
- 2,559 small business grants of £10,000;
- 161 retail hospitality and leisure grants of £10,000; and
- 288 retail hospitality and leisure grants of £25,000
As the council did not hold bank account details for 96% potentially eligible businesses – because Sandwell has a lot of small businesses that do not pay business rates by direct debit – the authority had to write to thousands of businesses at the start of April asking for key information in order to verify and process claims.
Deputy Council Leader Councillor Wasim Ali, the council’s cabinet member for resources and core services, said: “We have put extra resources into telephoning potentially eligible businesses that did not reply to the letter we sent them at the start of April.
“A number of those businesses have said they do not require a grant – but we need to stress that if any businesses have not yet replied, we can’t process their grant. They need to apply for us to verify and process a claim.
“Most businesses can expect to receive a payment within two weeks of submitting a claim.”
Go to our dedicated coronavirus pages for more information and advice on support available to businesses in Sandwell.