Thousands of West Country businesses are missing out on a vital coronavirus grant

Pumpkin Deli & Cafe in Wedmore remains open, despite the financial challenges coronavirus has brought Credit: ITV News West Country

There are fears that tens of thousands of small businesses in the West Country are missing out on a potentially vital grant which could keep them afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

Government figures have shown that 38% of eligible companies in the region are yet to receive the payment of up to £25,000 - with concerns some are mistaking the money for a loan.

Andrea Brenner received a £10,000 grant for her delicatessen and cafe in the Somerset village of Wedmore. She says it would have been tough to keep the business going without the money.

Andrea Brenner says the £10,000 grant has helped enormously to keep her business going Credit: ITV News West Country

Stephen Henagulph, Chief Executive of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce, believes some businesses think the money needs to be repaid:

He said: “I think it’s really important to stress these are grants. There are millions of pounds worth of grants still to allocate in Somerset."

“The short term problems that we see with lots of businesses, even in a reasonably buoyant economic situation, is that cash flow is the killer. These grants will help you survive these unprecedented times.”

Simon Brown of Cotton Street in Watchet is fighting to get the grant whilst helping others to apply Credit: ITV News West Country

Not getting a grant could see the end of Cotton Street, a printing and embroidery business in Watchet. Owner Simon Brown was told he wasn’t eligible because the company's business rates bill wasn’t in his name.

He has had to close the business for now.

A spokesperson from all of Somerset’s four district councils said: “Our staff have processed more than 7,500 grants in just six weeks, allocating more than £90m and around 60% of the funding made available.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the Somerset economy and we want to make sure everyone eligible gets a grant. There are Small business grants of £10,000 and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grants of up to £25,000, available.

“The process is straightforward and our staff are there to help you through it, so if you think you might be eligible, please contact your local district council – details are available on all our websites.”