Micro businesses in Staffordshire are being backed by a county council grant scheme – giving them essential support through the coronavirus crisis.
Hundreds applied for grants of up to £1,000 following the launch of the scheme last month. Applications closed in the first week due to huge demand.
The £500,000 scheme is helping businesses with nine employees or less which could not get support from other Government initiatives. The emergency fund was allocated on a first come, first serve basis and will support up to 500 local businesses.
It’s already making a difference. Businesses which have received a grant include Leek-based Pass with Jackie driving school. Formerly working in the leisure sector, Jackie Parton took on a franchise with Learner Driving Centre. She had to suspend lessons due to social distancing guidance.
Jackie said: “This grant has made a huge difference to me. It has enabled me to keep my business ready to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. On March 23, I had to shut my business down overnight. I have earned nothing in that time. I still have expenses to pay out each month to keep my car running and to keep my business ready to go.
“The grant has helped me pay my franchise fees which keeps my website running, car insurance, car tax and car service plan. Without these things being paid I wouldn’t be able to keep my car ready to start work again and would probably have found myself in a position of having to sell it.
“I’m so very grateful for this grant. Being self-employed to date I’ve had no other help whatsoever. It really has been a lifeline.”
Peter Nixon, who runs his own building company in north Staffordshire said: “Thank you to Staffordshire County Council for this scheme. Being a small limited company that still has some work, albeit less than usual, I’ve not been able to access other government schemes.
“I’m a sole director/employee of my company and was ill with suspected coronavirus for three weeks in March, so was not able to work or earn during this time. The grant has helped me to pay the balance owing to my supplier and progress forward, giving much peace of mind for me and my family.”
Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader Mark Winnington said: “This has been a critical initiative for the county council and demonstrates our commitment to supporting micro businesses through incredibly difficult times.
“We put the scheme into operation as soon as possible as we knew there would be extremely high demand. It is rewarding then to see how it’s made such a difference and we’re pleased to have lent our support.
“I’d like to thank businesses for getting in touch. Any needing support of any kind should contact the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub. Our priority, working with our partners, is to ensure we are doing all we can to support businesses through this period.”