Sunderland's £12m business support bill
Hard-hit retail and hospitality businesses in Sunderland have been given more than £12m to help reopen as lockdown restrictions are eased, new figures show.
The funding – from the Government's £5bn Restart Scheme – has been welcomed by local authority leaders.
Latest figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy show Sunderland City Council had issued £12.1m in grants to 1,693 businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors under the scheme up to the end of May.
The cash came from a £13m pot given to the council – leaving £867,696 still to distribute by the end of July.
The scheme offers grants up to £6,000 for non-essential retail businesses and £18,000 for firms in the hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym sectors.
Nationally, £2.6bn had been passed on to more than 340,000 businesses by the end of May.
Business leaders have complained some councils have been too slow to pass on the money.
Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association, said: "Some local authorities still have money to hand out to hard-hit businesses. They were meant to be Restart grants, in line with the reopening of so-called non-essential retail on April 12."
The Local Government Association, which represents the country's councils, said stringent checks had to be done on businesses before payments were issued.
A spokesman said: "Councils have had to come to terms with a rapidly changing landscape and guidance with different grants applying to different time periods and lockdowns but are working fast to ensure businesses receive funding as quickly as possible.”