"This has been a huge task for all involved, and we are over the moon that all of the eligible businesses that were identified for this grant have now received it," says Cllr Peter Wilding, Cabinet Member for Finance, Corporate Services and Revenues and Benefits at Chichester District Council.

"In total, we were allocated £37 million, but a small number of businesses decided that they did not want to accept the grant, for various reasons. Our staff were determined to issue these grants just as soon as they possibly could.

"Although all eligible businesses received a letter asking them to apply, not all initially responded, and so our staff have been heavily promoting the scheme, emailing and making phone calls - sometimes late at night. They truly have gone above and beyond to make sure that every single eligible business has had the opportunity to access their grant. I'm delighted to say that we are the number one Local Authority in the country for delivering this support, with a 99.56% payment rate.

"The Government have indicated late last week that there will be an extension to its grant schemes. We are waiting for more details and a formal announcement on this at the moment but will keep everyone updated."

This is just one of the many ways the council has been assisting businesses during the coronavirus crisis. The council's Economic Development team has been speaking to hundreds of businesses, offering support, while the council's Health Protection and Licensing teams have been helping businesses to meet Government guidelines and helping them to adapt their businesses.

"It really has been a team effort," Cllr Wilding adds. "Our Economic Development team has been supporting businesses, helping them to access the support that is available, and helping them to prepare for the recovery stage. While, our Health Protection team has been providing food businesses with advice on how to offer take-away and delivery services, as well as working with the licensing team to offer advice to caravan parks and holiday businesses.

"One of our key priorities is about helping businesses to recover from this crisis. We know how supportive and fantastic our residents have been during this crisis and we would encourage them to support our local businesses wherever they possibly can. Encouraging people to shop locally has always been a key focus for us and this is more important now than ever."

Date of release: 5 May 2020

Reference: 3872