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Business grants prove a lifeline for Swansea traders

A city business leader has praised a grants scheme which has seen more than 3,900 businesses across Swansea secure almost £50m of support to help them get through the pandemic.

City Centre Shops

The business grant scheme was launched in April by the Welsh Government and the deadline for new applications is 5pm on June 30.

Those to have benefited from cash pay-outs of up to £25,000 have included retail shops, hairdressers, carpet showrooms, gyms, restaurants and cafes - many of whom saw incomes virtually dry up when the country went into lockdown.

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said the council's business rates team had worked flat-out for three months to ensure as many businesses as possible got access to the scheme.

He said: "The feedback we've had is that these grants have made a huge difference in these difficult times. For some they have been a real lifeline, the difference between survival and going under.

"Now that lockdown is being carefully eased by the Welsh Government businesses have the opportunity to move ahead. As we've seen in the city centre, things won't look the same as they did before but the first steps to a return to some level of normality are starting to be taken."

Rob Basini, FSB South Wales Development Manager, said that access to support from the grants scheme had made a huge difference.

"It has been - and still is - a very challenging time for the small business sector. Small business owners have been fully-behind our communities' efforts to help support people at this time.

"Even though many were struggling to make ends meet, small businesses have been playing their part in this pandemic by, for example, supporting local foodbanks and helping to provide PPE to key workers.

"The business grant support scheme administered by the council has made a critical difference in helping our members get through the early stages of the pandemic.

"This has been a significant intervention from the council, and we'd urge any businesses who haven't already applied to do so.

"We'd urge customers to continue to support their local businesses where they can be sure of a warm and safe welcome."

The business grant support scheme was one of a wave of UK and Welsh Government projects launched following the decision to put Britain into an unprecedented lockdown to help beat Coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives. So far in Swansea 3,909 businesses have benefited from £48.9m of grants.

Under the scheme, any business liable for business rates on 20th March 2020 and entitled to small business rate relief was entitled to a grant of £10,000.  

Larger retail, leisure and hospitality businesses paying rates and occupying properties with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000 on 20th March were eligible for a grant of £25k. These included shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, live music venues and hotels although there are some businesses excluded from the Welsh Government scheme.

To help businesses chart their way through grant and loan opportunities Swansea Council has set up web pages highlighting all the other opportunities for business support that are available.

Any potentially-eligible business who has not applied has until 5pm on Tuesday to submit their application. These can be made online here:  www.swansea.gov.uk/coronavirusbusinessgrant

The Welsh Government set up its own website to share the other measures it was taking to support business at: businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice

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