Mayor Jamie Driscoll has urged all Newcastle businesses who have not yet registered for COVID-19 relief grants to sign up as quickly as possible.

Around 3,500 businesses have received nearly £41.5 million from Newcastle City Council to help keep businesses trading but there are many more – around one third of eligible businesses – which have yet to apply. Grants of £10,000 or £25,000 are available for businesses who receive small business rate relief and those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. The grants are cash the government has set aside to help small businesses and does not need to be paid back.

Mayor Driscoll said: “It’s important businesses who are eligible get this money; it’s important for our economy that our firms are able to keep trading. So please, apply trough the link and get the money. You are entitled to it.”

All remaining eligible businesses who haven’t registered for grants should register online at this link for fast access to funding made available from government. Newcastle City Council is receiving a high volume of applications, but business support teams are verifying and processing payments within five to ten working days. Payments are made automatically into business bank accounts and business support staff will only contact businesses if there is an issue. Newcastle City Council is asking businesses who have completed forms to check their bank accounts and only get in touch after the ten-day working period.

Newcastle City Council have received a significant number of enquiries from businesses who may qualify for the grant but are not on the business rates list, they are working through these as quickly as possible. If businesses didn’t register by 11 March 2020, they will need to get in touch with the business rates team – detail on the dedicated page.

One of the businesses to benefit from the scheme is software company Nebula Labs, based in Newcastle city centre.

Dylan McKee, co-founder said: “We recently received the government’s small business rates relief Covid-19 relief grant from Newcastle City Council. I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the process so far; it’s been fast and really efficient and only a minor number of forms to fill in which has been really good as a busy SME manager at this time. And having the grant processed so quickly, within five to ten days has been beneficial and allowed us to pay our suppliers and our city centre rent on time.”

Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council said: “We’re committed to providing fast access to grants to help businesses like Dylan’s get through the coronavirus pandemic. Coronavirus isn’t just a health crisis, it’s also an economic crisis. We’re here to help businesses get through these difficult times and to protect our local economy, protect jobs and protect the future of our city.”