MORE than two million pounds has been given to Oxford businesses to help them survive the coronavirus lockdown.

Oxford City Council is now paying out up to £1 million every day in Government cash to help local companies stay afloat.

Small business owners have been among the first to get hold of the money as Oxford is one of the first councils to start dishing out the funding.

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One of those small businesses owners has described the financial package as a ‘lifeline’.

The council put systems in place to manage the grants at the end of March and received £25.2m from the Government to pay the grants on April 1.

Oxford Mail:

The chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the grant funding to help businesses through the coronavirus lockdown last month

As of yesterday, it had already awarded £2.26m to 109 businesses from various government schemes to support companies through the coronavirus lockdown.

Ade Thomas, founder of media company Green.TV, was one of the first business owners to get a grant in the entire country.

He said: “I think we were one of the first 17 to be given a grant. I had the email through last Thursday and the money was my account on Friday.

“It has been a lifeline for us. It helps to keep eight people employed including our freelancers.”

Mr Thomas said several of his clients had not been able to honour large invoices for events he had planned to put on for them, including some at this year's Electric Vehicle (EV) summit at the Said Business School in Oxford, leaving him £80,000 out-of-pocket.

He added: “With an £80,000 cash shortfall it was a complete shock to the system. Every penny of the £10,000 grant from the government is important for us.”

The business owner said the money would help him to pay staff and costs for about a month, and allow him to ‘bridge’ his business away from events management and towards other things it did, including digital work.

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Mr Thomas also praised the city council’s ‘quick turnaround’ on running the grant scheme at a local level, and said businesses he knew in other areas had not received help as swiftly.

He has also applied for a government-backed loan scheme to help him in the longer term.

On just one day this week, Tuesday, the city council paid out more than 50 grants to local businesses, worth around £1m in total.

This included 12 small business grants totalling £120,000; three lower Retail leisure Hospitality Grants totalling £30,000; and 35 higher Retail leisure Hospitality Grants totalling £875,000.

It plans to pay out all of the funding by the end of April at a rate of about £1 million a day.

In addition the council is also applying business rates relief to firms across the city, with £57.3m of relief applied to 1,527 businesses in total.

While business rate relief has been helpful to SMEs, in some areas it has led councils to lose a lot of money, with Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran calling for emergency funding to help councils cover their shortfalls.

The total support provided for Oxford businesses so far in the form of grants and relief is expected to reach £83m.

Oxford Mail:

Susan Brown

Susan Brown, leader of Oxford City Council said: "In these very difficult times, I’m pleased that Oxford City Council has been among the first in the country to get millions of pounds of Government support out to businesses that desperately need it.

"Small business grants and business rate reliefs could make the difference between survival and closure for many of our businesses across the city.

"The feedback we have received from those who have been given the support demonstrates the importance of us all working together during the Coronavirus pandemic."

To apply for the funding, visit: