The Welsh Government has paused the ability to apply for its Economic Resilience Fund after it received a large number of applications.
Since applications to the second phase of the fund opened a week ago, over 9,000 applications have been made requesting for support amid the Coronavirus pandemic. Those businesses and organisations who have already applied to the fund will start receiving grant payments by the end of next week, Economy, Transport and North Wales Minister Ken Skates has announced.
Mr Skates said the fund will be paused until midday on Monday, which would allow the Welsh Government to consider what further support businesses, charities and other organisations require.
The Welsh Government has previously said that the Economic Resilience Fund will not be able to reach all businesses in need and has called on the UK government to offer further support. Discussing the pausing of the scheme, Mr Skates said;
“Demand for our Economic Resilience Fund speaks volumes about the scale of the national crisis.
“The rate of applications has been unprecedented and I want to thank the team of Welsh Government officials which is working at pace to process applications and get money into the accounts of those businesses and organisations, which need it as quickly as possible.
“We have taken the decision to pause the fund on Monday to examine how we use the remaining funding to maximise the benefits for those firms who need it and to protect our economy.
“As a government, we have a number of considerations to explore – supporting those businesses which we haven’t yet reached will be a primary concern.
“I welcome the actions the UK Government has taken to date in supporting businesses but there is a lot more it can – and should – be doing.
“There is a real need for the Chancellor to learn lessons quickly from the schemes implemented so far, not least on getting funds out to businesses faster.
“It is essential the UK Government now goes further by providing the financial support needed for firms of all sizes to survive and recover to the levels of growth and prosperity that were seen before this pandemic.”
The Economic Resilience Fund was set up to offer financial support to help businesses, charities and social enterprises amid the Coronavirus pandemic. The fund, which totals £500m, is an additional funding stream only available in Wales and set up to address gaps in support schemes announced by the UK government.
Speaking on Friday, the First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford suggested that lockdown measures in the country could be ended in phases, “like a traffic light in reverse” and suggested that some restrictions may be lifted at the end of the current extended three-week lockdown period.
So far, 5,610 people are confirmed to have died in Wales after contracting COVID-19.