County council economy chief will continue to press for more government support after grant scheme for small businesses in Lincolnshire closes to applicants after one hour

A grant scheme to boost Lincolnshire small businesses in their recovery from the impact of Covid-19 closures closed just an hour after opening for applications, now the county council’s economy chief pledges he will continue to press for more support.

Coun Colin Davie.

The government announced £20 million in new funding to help small businesses recover from the impact of Covid-19 by offering grants of between £1,000 and £3,000 to support them with recovery projects, including for use on new equipment and technology or to access specialist advice.

Business Lincolnshire, which was set up to help Greater Lincolnshire based businesses to start and grow, has been administering the scheme in the county.

In order to provide a fair process for all businesses, the window for expressions of interest was opened at 9am last Thursday. Within one hour of being open over 400 expressions of interest were received and it was closed to further applicants.

Coun Colin Davie, executive councillor for economy and place at the county council, said: “We know there is high demand for these grants throughout the country, and businesses had been enquiring about them since they were announced by the government in July. We gave advance notice of the go live date and time, making clear demand would be high and that applications would be dealt with on a first come first served basis.

“Businesses who miss out on funding will be supported by Business Lincolnshire advisors who may be able to help with other funding options, and provide support and advice for anyone in the county looking to start, develop or grow a business.

“The level of interest shows that businesses need as much help as possible at the moment – both from us as consumers to shop locally, and from the government. We’re continuing to discuss with government how their plans to level up the country will benefit our area, and we are giving our feedback about what businesses are telling us they need.”

A statement from Business Lincolnshire was posted on its website saying: “This number (400 expressions of interest) would significantly exceed the total value of grants available, even if only a proportion of them submitted a full application. The decision has therefore been made to close the grant for applications.”

They added: “It is expected that with the volume of applications already received, once these applications have been processed there will be no further funding available. However, if this is not the case an additional window for expressions of interest will be opened, and businesses will be notified through our communications channels.”