Scheme that awarded £1.5million in support grants to Warwickshire businesses during pandemic hailed a success

There have been two rounds of funding through the council

A county-wide grant scheme aimed at helping businesses diversify as they came out of lockdown proved so successful that applications had to be halted within hours of the process going live

A county-wide grant scheme aimed at helping businesses diversify as they came out of lockdown proved so successful that applications had to be halted within hours of the process going live.

David Ayton-Hill, Warwickshire County Council’s assistant director of communities, explained that more than 100 firms had already been helped by the Adapt and Diversify Grants which were targetted at those in the retail, hospitality, tourism and leisure industries.

Speaking at the communities overview and scrutiny meeting on Wednesday (June 23), Mr Ayton-Hill said: “This is something we put in place using some funding provided by Government to support Covid outbreak management and sits alongside funding from districts and boroughs.

"Those grants were very much about helping businesses get through the times when they were closed - our scheme tries to sit alongside that and is very forward looking.

“We have allocated £1.5m through two rounds and on both occasions, the day we opened the applications we have had to close them because of the volume of applications we were receiving.”

In his written update to councillors he explained that the second round of funding had so far resulted in nearly £740,000 awarded to 54 businesses with the remainder of the fund being distributed in the next few weeks.

This was through grants of £5,000 towards the costs of accessing specialist external advice and up to £20,000 for projects involving specialist advice and/or the purchase of equipment or the refurbishment of property.

Nearly £600,000 was allocated in the initial round earlier in the year when 51 businesses benefited.

Mr Ayton-Hill added: “Unfortunately we did have a number of ineligible applications, people putting in high level applications lacking details which we couldn’t take forward.

"We have gone back to the companies and advised them where they could go for other help or helped them think about a future round.”

Elsewhere in his report he advised that 369 jobs had been safeguarded by another county council scheme - the Survive, Sustain and Grow business support programme.

He explained: “The programme has had just under 600 enquiries since August 2020 and 574 businesses have now been supported by the programme across a range of sectors and geographies.

“Grants worth over £330,000 have also been awarded to 55 businesses on the programme to support the costs of implementing their recovery plans.”