Middlesbrough Council processed over £3.5 million in grants in January 2021.

The cash support has benefited 519 businesses so far, and business owners are being reminded to check their eligibility if they’ve not already done so.

The grant scheme was announced by central government to provide further support to businesses hit by the third wave of national lockdown.

Grants are available to businesses required to close under the Local Restrictions Closed Scheme as well as a one-off top-up lockdown payment.

Any adjustment payment required for businesses when Middlesbrough was under Tier 4 restrictions will also be calculated at this time.

Businesses that claimed a closed grant in November will have received an email as part of a quick verification process, while claim forms are available for those that haven’t already received a closed grant.

Middlesbrough Council staff are working hard to process claims as quickly as possible.

Emily Bentley, owner of Bentley’s Cafés, said: “The grants have been a real lifeline for the company.

“Without the support we would not be in the position we are to be able to reopen as soon as the restrictions lift and it’s safe to do so.

“The team at Middlesbrough Council has been a great support and have helped us navigate the relevant application forms.

“Especially with the latest support released. The direct contact and simple form to confirm just a few details meant what I feared would be a complicated process, was in fact a very simple one.

“We feel very lucky to have the help and support from government and the council and we’re looking forward to a bright future.”

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: “It’s vital that we do everything we can to support businesses and protect jobs and livelihoods through this incredibly difficult time.

“The Government’s extension of the grant support scheme is really important, and we will do everything we can to ensure the money gets to those who need it as soon as possible.

“I’d also urge people to check our website for the latest information and guidance rather than making contact direct – the handy flow chart will answer most questions, and that will help to take pressure off our staff who are working flat out.”

Eligible businesses are those required to close by Government in the non-essential retail, leisure, personal care, sports facilities and hospitality sectors.

To support businesses even further the Council’s Additional Restrictions Grant has been extended to include a wider range of sectors.