Coronavirus update: Crisis-hit Bath firms receiving support funding – but many could be missing out

April 17, 2020

More than 740 businesses in the Bath area have received urgent support grants from Bath & North East Somerset Council totalling £11m to help them stave off the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

The council’s Invest in Bath business support team worked throughout the Easter weekend to continue processing applications for the central government-funded schemes made via its online form to help a range of businesses receive the vital payments more quickly. But there are fears that many eligible businesses are missing out.

Around 200 applications are being processed a day, according to Invest in Bath. Earlier this week it said 187 firms had received small business grants with a further 158 payments made for businesses in the city’s retail, hospitality and leisure sector. No breakdown has been given for the latest total, which was announced yesterday.

However, Business West, the regional group behind Bath Chamber of Commerce, said this amounted to just 24% of the £46.1m the council had received from central government for payments – meaning many hard-hit businesses in the city had not received any financial help.

The percentage, which earlier this week stood at just 12%, remains the lowest among all the local authorities monitored by Business West. It said Gloucester City Council had allocated 65% of its £21.7m funding from the government.

Invest in Bath said it was continuing to invite applications and has a target of processing payments within seven working days from date of receipt.

In total the council said it received around 2,250 applications and had processed more than 1,030.

Council deputy leader Richard Samuel said: “We continue to have a huge response from our local businesses, so once again I’d ask if people could remain patient while our Invest in Bath team works hard to get the payments made.

“They recognise the importance of the money reaching businesses urgently and have worked over the Easter break to process these forms.” 

Any business that currently receives Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate relief may be eligible for a £10,000 cash grant from the government via the local authority. Any retail, hospitality or leisure business with a rateable value above £15,000 and below £51,000 may be eligible for a £25,000 cash grant.

Business West is compiling information on take-up of local authority funding as part of its Trading Through Coronavirus web support service to help businesses understand how soon they can expect to receive any grants they are eligible for. 

Business West director of policy Matt Griffith, pictured, said: “Coronavirus is putting intense financial pressures on many of our region’s small and medium-sized businesses, with some facing critical days with survival in the balance, with drastically reduced income putting severe pressure on cashflow and reserves.

“Business West is urging local authorities to help get government cash support out to business as quickly as possible.

“Many of our local authorities are working incredibly hard, with many working over the Easter Bank Holiday to deliver grants to local businesses. However, there is still considerable variation in how well councils are doing. Some, like Gloucester City Council have now paid 68% of eligible businesses, whereas others are struggling to get up to speed to the scale of the crisis.”

He said the crisis was the biggest economic shock to hit the country since the Great Depression of the 1930s and for many businesses government support now was what stands between survival and going to the wall.

“But timing is critical – with staff costs and bills to pay, many can’t afford to wait. This is why we are urging all local authorities and central government to get money to firms as rapidly as is practicable,” he added. 

“When the scheme was originally announced, government said that businesses would not need to apply to receive the money. However, this has changed and to get a grant, businesses have to apply direct to their local authority with some basic financial information in order to prevent fraud.

“Our work has highlighted high numbers of eligible firms who haven’t applied – for example over 30% of eligible firms in Bristol. We are working with local authorities to urge eligible businesses to apply as soon as they can.

“We are concerned that many smaller businesses working from business premises will be unaware that they are eligible as they would not have previously paid business rates due to small business rates relief.

“It is vital that available funds are claiming by trading businesses, and not left unclaimed or claimed by landlords instead.”

Bath area businesses that have not already registered for the grants can still do so at

Firms that have applied are being asked to avoid asking for status updates on their applications where possible so that staff can focus on assessing other submissions quickly.

The full range of financial support for businesses announced by government can be found here



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