This is how many businesses have had their emergency coronavirus grant in Preston, Chorley and South Ribble

Three in five businesses across Central Lancashire which are eligible for a government grant to help them through the coronavirus crisis now have the cash in the bank.

By Paul Faulkner
Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 6:42 pm

The latest figures, including payments made over the weekend, show that 3,904 firms have received a total of £44.8m – which has been distributed via Preston, Chorley and South Ribble councils.

Ultimately, 6,487 companies can expect to receive support in Central Lancashire if they apply for one of the two grants on offer – with £80.4m available across the three local authorities.

South Ribble Borough Council has so far handed out cash to 77 percent of eligible businesses in its area, Chorley Council has distributed funds to 76 percent of firms and for Preston City Council the figure is 40 percent.

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Small businesses are eligible for grants to help them through the coronavirus crisis

Preston says that the apparent difference in performance is actually due to the number of business entitled to help in the city – at 2,859, the authority has over 1,000 firms more to assist than neighbouring South Ribble.

The difference is also less stark when taking into account the number of companies which have received their grants so far – although with 1,133 payments, Preston still comes behind Chorley (1,448) and South Ribble (1,323).

Last week, the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce urged all councils to speed up the processing of payments for the sake of struggling businesses.

Preston City Council has now paid out £13.7m, a more than £2m increase in five days, which a spokesperson said is “down to the continued hard work of our team to process applications and work proactively with businesses to get them this much needed funding”.

He added: “Preston is fortunate in having a large number of businesses, but with so many eligible for support it has meant that our team have had a significant number of applications to process in a very short space of time.”

“We understand this is a fraught time for businesses and we’re grateful for the patience they have shown while we process these applications. Our thorough approach will ensure businesses receive the correct grant, securely into their bank account. We will continue to do all we can to support businesses through this emergency situation to recovery.”

South Ribble Borough Council has so far made payments totalling £14.8m.

The authority’s leader, Paul Foster said last week: “Our staff are continuing to work around the clock to make sure that South Ribble businesses get the support they urgently require and receive the grant funding payments they need as quickly as possible.

“I am really pleased that we have been able to help so many local businesses already with the initiatives we have set up and we will continue to do whatever is required.

“South Ribble businesses can be assured that we will offer all the help and support we can for as long as necessary during this really difficult time.”

Meanwhile, Chorley Council has so far paid out £16.3m.

Council leader Alistair Bradley, also speaking last week, said: “We recognised that businesses really need this money as soon as possible and we weren’t prepared to make them wait until we had received government money before being able to administer this – we had to step in.

“We began to implement our processes for delivering grants as soon as the government announced these measures of support, so that eligible businesses who requested it could get this vital financial support in advance of 1st April or shortly after.”

Under the government’s Small Business Grant Fund, all businesses which are in receipt of either Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rates Relief (RRR) will be eligible for a grant payment of £10,000.

Under the separate Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant scheme businesses in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount on business rates – covering retail, hospitality and leisure – are eligible for a grant of £10,000 if their property has a rateable value of up £15,000, or a grant of £25,000 if their property has a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000.