Huntingdonshire District Council has closed its Discretionary Grant Scheme, having now allocated just over £1.6 million in grants to local businesses and charities.

The discretionary scheme was introduced by the government on the back of its Small Business and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grants, and gave more flexibility to local councils to distribute the funding according to local economic circumstances and priorities.

Executive Leader of the council, Cllr Ryan Fuller, said: "Our local grant scheme has been a tremendous success in supporting Huntingdonshire businesses that had slipped through the net of the first tranche of government business grants. We have done all we can to quickly get the funding into the hands of those who need it.

"Our focus has been to ensure our local businesses can access the help and support that they require, and we have revised the eligibility criteria of the scheme as necessary over the last few weeks to allow for as many of our affected local businesses as possible to receive financial support. However, the government allocation of £1.6 million can only go so far and there are more Huntingdonshire businesses that we would have liked to be able to help and will do so if further government funding for small businesses becomes available."

The Discretionary Grant Scheme has allocated over £1.6 million to local businesses ranging from charities, bed and breakfasts, businesses with shared or serviced accommodation and market traders. The scheme evolved to adapt to the circumstances of the local economy responding to local needs and where support and funding were most needed. Ultimately, expanding in the final weeks to accept applications from all small businesses.

Magpas Air Ambulance, a recipient of a discretionary grant, contacted the District Council: "I am writing to express our sincere gratitude for your continued support and for the very generous grant. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, many of our usual fundraising activities have now stopped so your grant today is even more important than ever."

Other local businesses have also reached out to the council to express thanks for the support. Gary Dyett of RWJ & Son Ltd said, "Thank you very much for that, very much appreciated and a great help to us. Also, I would just like to say how efficient and helpful your whole department has been throughout my claim."

Mark Doyle, of Fierce Angel Records, also got in touch and said: "Why thank you very much! A little good news amongst all the bad! Bravo Grants Team!"

In total, HDC’s Discretionary Grant Scheme has been able to support over 200 local businesses who otherwise had not been able to access government support.