• Durham OnAir

Over 300 County Durham businesses benefitted from £6m recovery grant




More than 300 businesses have been supported and over 3,500 jobs safeguarded through

a County Durham coronavirus recovery grant.


The Durham Business Recovery Grant was launched by Durham County Council in

January to help companies overcome the challenges caused by the pandemic, as part of

the authority’s commitment to supporting the local economy. To date, it has helped 318

businesses across the county.


The grant was aimed at businesses affected by coronavirus pandemic which were

developing recovery plans to meet the challenges they faced – such as purchasing new

equipment, developing new products, expanding into new markets, and adapting their

operational models.


The scheme, overseen by the council’s dedicated business support service Business

Durham, offered businesses with a clear recovery plan, grants from £1,000 up to a

maximum of £40,000 and contributed 75 per cent towards eligible recovery plan costs,

with the applicants expected to meet a quarter of the project cost.


Originally set at £5m, due to high demand for the grants, an additional £1m was added to

the fund bringing it to a £6m scheme, with the council working hard to assess and process

applications quickly.


Grants have been awarded to companies varying in size from micro-businesses to those

employing up to 250 people in County Durham from a range of sectors including: business

services, construction, healthcare, information and communication, retail and hospitality,

leisure, manufacturing and engineering, and tourism.


The majority of grants (95 per cent) have been awarded to micro or smaller businesses

employing up to 50 staff.


Grants have been awarded to 119 companies (37 per cent) in retail and personal services,

61 companies (19 per cent) in manufacturing and engineering, 60 companies (19 per cent)

in the cultural, creative and tourism sectors and 34 companies (11 per cent) in business

services, professional services and distribution, with the remaining 44 companies (14 per

cent) coming from other sectors.


Each of the 318 companies have secured grants to enable them to purchase new

equipment, develop new products, adapt their operational models and expand into new

markets.


Flamingo Bar & Café in Seaham was awarded a grant of £14,900 to purchase new

equipment which enabled the café to speed up service and adapt its premises to adhere to

Covid-secure requirements by creating an outdoor food storage area, so it could increase

seating and serve more customers.


Hannah Jackson-Harrison, owner of Flamingo Bar & Café, said: “Durham County Council has been amazing throughout the whole of the pandemic, and I just don’t think we would have muddled through if we hadn’t had the help in the form of business support grants from it. The grants came through very quickly and communication from various

departments within the council has been fantastic.


“The Business Recovery Grant has enabled me to improve systems, increase seating and

speed up service, meaning that when we step out of this pandemic and back into more

‘normal’ times we are ready to hit the ground running and pick up where we left off in

March 2020.”


Aycliffe Fabrications received a £32,200 grant which it put towards the cost of the

purchase of two new pieces of machinery enabling it to expand the service offering and

open up new markets.


Christine Bewley, managing director at Aycliffe Fabrications, said: “Aycliffe Fabrications

was delighted to receive funding from the Durham Business Recovery Grant. With the help

of the consultant assigned to us it was easy to discuss not only our future plans, but where

our business had come from and how the grant would enable us to move forward after a

difficult year.


“Many small engineering businesses like ourselves have been greatly impacted by Covid

and the fact that Durham County Council has recognised this and looked carefully at all

grant applications across all sectors has been invaluable. It cannot be underestimated how

much it has meant to know that an outside organisation has looked at our company and

agreed that we are worth investing in and that together we will ensure a secure future for

our employees, customers and suppliers.”


Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet Member for economy and

partnerships, said: “Over the past 16 months, County Durham businesses have displayed

immense resilience, adaptability and innovation, as they continue to navigate the

challenges of the pandemic. It has been fantastic to see companies diversify to survive by

expanding into new markets and manufacturing different products.


“However, we appreciate how difficult it has been for businesses and it is vital that we do

what we can to help businesses recover and look to the future. That is why we launched

our £5 million Durham Business Recovery Grant scheme earlier this year, adding the

additional £1m due to the demand to demonstrate our commitment to local businesses,

enabling them to adapt and thrive, safeguarding jobs and developing a sustainable

economy for the long term. It is fantastic to see we have been able to support over 300

companies across the county in six months.


“The comments we have received from the companies demonstrate just how important this

grant scheme has been to help them get back on track for the future, and to safeguard

vital jobs and livelihoods in the county. We hope that with the support from the grant

scheme, these businesses can continue to thrive, creating more and better jobs and

contributing towards a strong competitive economy for the future.”




The scheme has now closed for applications but all those received will be assessed.

Information on other support for businesses provided by the council, and advice for

companies, is available online at https://www.businessdurham.co.uk and

https://www.durham.gov.uk/business