£27m paid out to help save thousands of Kettering, Wellingborough and Corby businesses

The coronavirus payments have been processed by local authorities with Kettering Council handing out the most by far.

27m has been given so far to business in the north of the county to help them through the shutdown caused by the pandemic.
27m has been given so far to business in the north of the county to help them through the shutdown caused by the pandemic.

More than 2,200 small businesses across Kettering, Wellingborough, Corby and East Northants have been paid more than £27m in grants to keep them going during the coronavirus pandemic.

In the space of just two weeks 2,282 under-the-cosh rateable businesses have applied for grants newly available as part of the Government scheme established to help protect businesses from going under and protect jobs during the global crisis, which now looks likely to head the UK into a recession.

Local councils are administering the grants and so far Kettering Council has given out more than half of the grants for the North Northamptonshire area – handing out £15.6m to 1,274 businesses. Wellingborough Council has paid out £3.4m to 301 firms, East Northants Council has given £4.9m to 446 businesses and Corby has paid out the least with £3.4m paid out so far to 261 businesses.

The grants are being given under the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund. Each local authority has been given a lump sum allocation by government and responsibility for processing the payments.

Lance Holland, who owns well-established road safety company BrightKidz with his wife Alison, said Kettering Council sent out a cheque to their business automatically and was very impressed with the authority.

He said: “This payment has been a lifeline for us – and will have to last until this is over as we don’t have any orders in at the moment. We will have to be looking at costs going forward and we are doing everything we can to keep the business going.”

The government has pledged billions to make sure businesses can stay afloat during the pandemic and therefore the economic shock. It has offered a furlough scheme which pays 80 per cent of employees’ pay, however there have been some concerns that businesses that are not large enough to pay rates are not eligible for grants and there have also been issues with some business applying for larger loans. The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) offers finance to businesses with a turnover above £45m, however only 80 per cent of the loan is underwritten meaning that some banks have been unwilling to lend.

Paul Griffiths, chief executive officer of Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “It’s heartening to hear that small businesses across Northants are beginning to access much-needed funding to help them through these unprecedented challenges. We are in touch on a daily basis with our colleagues across the accredited Chamber network, and have been lobbying the government to ensure funds are released to businesses as quickly as possible.

“Whilst we welcome the introduction of the various financial support schemes announced by the government, there is serious concern that this vital cash-flow is not reaching firms quick enough; members have reported difficulties in applying for financial aid, and the reported number of approvals for Northamptonshire firms is unsatisfactory at this stage. We are working closely with all concerned to ensure businesses across the county receive the help and support they need to emerge from this crisis ready to trade.

“I would encourage all members of the Chamber of Commerce to contact our dedicated Coronavirus Helpline, open weekdays 10am – 4pm on 01604 490414, to report their experiences and access the full range of support we can offer.”