Supporting local businesses remains a high priority for Huntingdonshire District Council as it continues to administer COVID-19 business grants and works to support our local economy during current restrictions.

As national lockdown restrictions continue, further Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) payments are to be released by the council at the beginning of March. This additional discretionary assistance is for businesses who fall outside of the business rates system and cannot apply for the government’s ongoing Local Restrictions Support Grants (LRSG). This additional round of ARG payments will provide a further £4,000 grant to each local business that previously received £2,000 of ARG and ARGE funding when the scheme first launched at the end of 2020.

Executive Leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, Cllr Ryan Fuller, said: "We recognise the impact the ongoing restrictions are still having on how businesses can operate. Our local businesses across the district play a vital role in our local economy and now that we have the detail of the Prime Minister’s route out of lockdown finding ways to continue to support our businesses through that process is a priority.

"These first couple of months of 2021 have continued to impact businesses greatly, therefore we are committing to the release of additional vital funds to support them now that we have a firmer timetable of when restrictions may ease. We will also continue to develop new ways to support the viability and vibrancy of our Huntingdonshire economy as it seeks to recover through the coming year."

The council will provide a total of nearly £1.6 million of additional grants to local businesses without them needing to reapply. The council will proactively deliver these payments to businesses who have already successfully received funds under the previous Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) and Additional Restrictions Grant Extension (ARGE) schemes and expects to begin making those payments in the first weeks of March.

In addition to providing further funds directly to businesses who successfully applied previously, the Additional Restrictions Grant – Extended Scheme (ARGE) will be reopened for new applications. This will enable businesses that did not apply at the end of last year to make a grant application for the first time. The scheme eligibility and supporting information remains the same and will require a formal application through the MyHuntingdonshire portal. The council is putting the resources in place to make that scheme available again by the 15 March.

While direct grant support will be in place to help businesses mitigate the impact of current restrictions, the council is also working on creating a wider set of measures that will help build a sustained recovery of the local economy, using funds through 2021/22 within government guidance. This will include dialogue with local business organisations to establish a range of medium and longer-term support. The council has already been active on a range of such initiatives as part of its reopening towns programme, and examples include the partnership with online retail platform 'Click It Local'.

Direct communication will be made to businesses identified for top-up discretionary payments of the ARG funds and the latest information on all grants and support available can be found on the website and across our social media channels.