Boost for County Durham businesses with over £76m paid out to SMEs

More than 7,000 grants worth £76m have been paid out to businesses across County Durham to support them through the COVID-19 crisis.

Durham County Council has now paid more than £76m - 85 per cent of the overall sum that was originally expected to be paid.

Paul Ruscoe, the managing director of R&R Bearings Ltd in Consett, said of the funding: “The speed in which this support has been provided is mind blowing. After seeing some green shoots over the last two years, we were cautiously optimistic about our future.

“Unfortunately, our telephones have become quieter because of COVID-19 and we have some serious challenges ahead. However, this grant will help us massively over the coming weeks and make a big difference to our business.”

The grants are also helping some owners to diversify.

Xiao-He Chen, who owns The Mason Arms in Stanley, said: “Not only will I be able to pay off my existing standing orders and bills, the grant will also help me to fulfil my ambition of diversifying the business.

“With the closure of my pub, I now hope to be able to provide food delivery and takeaway for the local community. That could be life changing to my business as well as myself and would make a huge difference, so I very much appreciate the financial support of the council at this time.”

The council expects to pay just under £95m in total, once all £10k and £25k grants have been paid to those businesses that are eligible.

Cllr Carl Marshall, cabinet member for economic regeneration, commented: “It is promising to see that more organisations are now able to access these support grants. It will make a real difference to them in these very difficult times.

“I’m also thankful to our staff for continuing to work so hard to support our local businesses. To have already paid more than £76m is a fantastic achievement and shows their commitment in such extraordinary circumstances.”