FIFTTEEN million pounds has been given out to businesses across southern Oxfordshire as part of the government’s coronavirus relief, but more businesses have been urged to apply.

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have between them helped 2,500 companies get government’s relief funding so far.

As of Monday, the two councils had given out a total of £15 million in grant funding to local businesses.

But councillors in both areas are worried that some businesses will miss out on the funding.

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Approximately 65 per cent of businesses based in southern Oxfordshire have submitted bids for funding, and the councils have promised money for all of them which are eligible by April 30.

But the remaining 35 per cent of businesses which have not submitted claims yet are being urged to come forward.

Leigh Rawlins, cabinet member for finance at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We know this is an extremely challenging and worrying time for many people. However, we would urge business owners who are struggling and have not submitted their details for the available grant to get in touch.”

Andrew Brooker, a trustee of Millsteam Day Centre in Benson, said the registered charity was among those which had received a relief grant of £10,000.

The day centre received money from the retail, hospitality, and leisure grant fund.

The centre usually provides a place for elderly people from Benson and nearby to spend time, and has 25 regular customers who pay £6 to take part in activities throughout the day and have a two-course meal.

Mr Brooker said the relief funding could help to meet the day centre’s ongoing costs throughout the coronavirus lockdown, while government furlough payments would help its two members of staff.

He said: “We have had to stop fundraising events, we are down probably £1,000 on what we would normally be because our members cannot attend.

“The £10,000 is really helpful and it will get us through a six-month lockdown I think, if it comes to that.”

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Customers at the day centre in 2015. Picture: Richard Cave.

Mr Brooker added that the day centre aimed to combat isolation among the elderly, give them a ‘decent meal’, and help them exercise to prevent falls or other injuries.

While the lockdown is in place, its usual members are unable to use it, but it has been turned over to local volunteers.

Now it is being used to cook meals for people stuck in their homes, and is providing up to 25 meals a day according to the trustee.

Businesses in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse that are yet to submit their details for grant support in response to Covid-19 can do so through the two councils’ websites.

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Andy Crawford, cabinet member for finance at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Our team is working hard to provide urgent assistance to businesses badly affected by the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, it has affected many businesses very suddenly meaning we’ve had a huge number of submissions to deal with in a very short period of time. We are pleased to say that they are being processed and businesses are starting to receive this funding.”

Earlier this year, government data showed a discretionary business relief scheme on offer since 2017 had had a poor take-up in the Vale and South Oxfordshire.

The councils said they had tried to advertise it since it was first released, but some businesses did not take up the offer and part of funding was returned to the government.

Visit either or about the grant schemes.