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North Devon Council has paid out £17m in government grants to 1500 businesses in the last week.

The finance team has worked day and night, including over the last two weekends to ensure that the crucial financial help is delivered quickly.

However, only half of all eligible businesses have applied so far.

Several hundred businesses have had problems filling in the online form and the team is busy working through the hundreds of emails they've had in. Many of the emails are duplicates which is making responding more difficult so the team is appealing to people to only contact them once as they will be responding to each and every one.

Some of the issues are quickly resolved but some are more complex, meaning it's taking a little longer to resolve. These include:

  • people providing incorrect evidence
  • whether there’s an element of personal use of the business (such as stables)
  • people who think they qualify but actually don’t
  • people who are eligible for small business rate relief but hadn’t applied before the grant system was announced
  • people who hadn’t registered to pay business rates on new businesses before the grant system was announced
  • the listed ratepayer is incorrect

In some cases, the team is having to refer the problem back to the government for clarification.

Council Leader Cllr David Worden says: "We want to thank the local North Devon business community for being so polite, patient and understanding whilst we administer these grants. We also want to thank our hardworking staff who have given their absolute all to getting these payments out with much reduced staffing levels, as the virus has taken its toll on our resources. We're deeply sorry that some people have had to wait longer than others but there are some complex issues to resolve and rest assured, they will get to you as quickly as they can."