MORE THAN £28million has been paid out to support businesses impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic in the New Forest district.

New Forest District Council (NFDC) is supporting local businesses with funding, support and information. As of April 14, a total of £28.65m has been distributed, which represents payments to 2,337 businesses.

Councillor Michael Harris, the district council's portfolio holder for economic development said: “The impact on our local economy will be more significantly felt as we move into the start of the traditional visitor season. This crisis comes as many seasonal businesses around the visitor economy are moving out of their quieter period to a time when they usually achieve a high proportion of their annual income.

“However, faced with these challenges it is reassuring to witness the resilience of our local business community. We’re seeing many businesses, particularly cafes, restaurants and pubs diversifying their offer to take advantage of the relaxed laws in offering takeaway. Many local food retailers have benefited from demand for local delivery where supermarket slots cannot be booked and manufacturing businesses in the New Forest have adapted their offering to meet government calls for essential items in tackling the pandemic, such as distilleries and factories manufacturing hand sanitiser and companies 3D printing face masks for the NHS.

“Our focus at New Forest District Council is to ensure that our local businesses have been connected with all the government support available to them. We are in touch with local businesses on a daily basis to ensure that they are accessing support packages and resources from our partners at a local, regional and national level, and providing the latest information and guidance to our business communities as the situation changes.,” he added.

“I am both proud and amazed at the speed with which our teams have been able to react to the effects of COVID19 on the businesses of the New Forest. Government funds have been properly distributed in just a few days”

Alan Bethune, the chief financial officer at NFDC, added: “Within seven days of New Forest District Council receiving the business grant funding from central government, we had facilitated payments of £24.63m, covering 96 per cent of the businesses who had submitted the necessary information back to the council to enable payment, making us one of the first local authorities to pay out the grants."

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