But more than 1,700 potentially eligible Sandwell businesses still need to submit their application if they want to claim funds available.
Council staff are working flat out, including at weekends, to process claims as quickly as possible, as well as phoning businesses that have not yet replied to the council to provide their details.
As the council did not hold bank account details for 96% potentially eligible businesses – because Sandwell has a lot of small businesses that do not pay business rates by direct debit – the authority had to write to more than 5,500 at the start of April asking for key information in order to verify and process claims.
As of yesterday afternoon (Monday 5 May), the council has paid 2,436 business a total of £27.9 million. This means 54% of grants to businesses that have applied have now been processed. The breakdown is as follows:
• 2,072 small business grants of £10,000;
• 122 retail hospitality and leisure grants of £10,000
• 242 retail hospitality and leisure grants of £25,000
Council Leader Councillor Yvonne Davies said: “Our staff continue to pull out all the stops to process applications and make sure businesses receive these ‘lifeline’ grants.
“Most businesses can expect to receive a payment within two weeks of submitting a claim.
“We can only process those requests we have received, so I would urge any business that has not yet applied to get in touch as soon as they possibly can, so we can process their claim.”
Any Sandwell businesses that believe they may be eligible for a grant but have not yet filled in the online form with their details should go to www.sandwell.gov.uk/supportforbusinesses where they can check the qualifying criteria and complete the form to request a grant.
Deputy leader Councillor Wasim Ali, the council’s cabinet member for resources and core services, added: “We have put in extra resources to telephone those businesses that have yet to reply to us, and our staff are working very hard to check and process all claims.
“Nearly 600 requests received last week were a direct result of our team phoning businesses that had not replied to our letter. Please do get in touch if you are eligible and have not yet responded to us.”
Those businesses whose bank account details the council already held received their payments immediately at the beginning of April.
The council’s Think Sandwell website has a range of advice and support available to Sandwell’s businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.