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Government grants to help businesses through the coronavirus outbreak will soon be paid out to thousands of eligible businesses in North Devon.

North Devon Council is offering reassurance to the district's business owners that the new software it has bought in to help it distribute local government support grants will enable payments to be made as soon as possible to eligible businesses once their information has been validated. The council has asked for patience from businesses, as its staff works hard to get the system in place ready for payments to start being made later this week.

The grants have been made available by central government to support the many small businesses which pay little or no business rates because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR). The government has promised to provide £10,000 cash grants to businesses across the country which are currently eligible for either SBRR or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs. A £25,000 grant will also be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.

Leader of North Devon Council, David Worden says: "We want our local businesses to know that we are working really hard to get government grants to them as swiftly as possible. In order to enable these payments we have had to buy in new software, which has to be implemented and tested before we can use it. We fully appreciate how hard this is for local businesses but the software we are using will see payments start being made in the coming days once we have validated your business information.

"We understand that your patience may be running thin but we assure you that our officers are working their hardest to sort this out for you and the thousands of other businesses these grants will be paid to in North Devon, trying to put a system in as quickly as possible that two weeks ago didn't even exist. These things normally take months of implementation and our staff are working over and above to get it ready in a matter of days so please, please, be patient for just a few more days."

The council says it will be advising all businesses via its website in the next week on how to provide their business and bank details when the payments are ready to go. Full UK government guidance is available on its business support pages.

Businesses can email the council's Economic Development and Regeneration Team on to request more information about the coronavirus-related business grant when it becomes available. More information on the support available to local businesses is on the council's dedicated webpage