HUNDREDS of small businesses across East Lancashire will start to receive millions of pounds of emergency government cash this week to cushion the effects of coronavirus.

The grants of £10,000 or £25,000 are being paid through local authorities.

Blackburn with Darwen Council has processed more than 1,100 applications for payment in the week out of a total of 4,175 businesses identified as qualifying.

Hyndburn is sending out £18.5million to 1,618 businesses qualifying for a £10,000 grant and 92 eligible for the £25,000 sum.

Burnley has processed 516 grants which businesses should receive in the next 10 days. The borough has 2,186 eligible claimants.

Ribble Valley Borough has approved its first batch of Business Support Grants today totalling £1m. It has identified 1,600 qualifying firms.

Pendle Council has so far received more than 1,000 applications from local businesses of which 170 have been processed and will receive their money by the middle of next week.

Rossendale Borough has identified 1,700 qualifying properties for the two grants.

Miranda Barker, chief executive of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said: “This activity by the councils is absolutely good news and absolutely vital to the businesses concerned. The sooner the grants hit their bank accounts the better.”

Some businesses have already fallen foul of the government regulations including grant scheme red tape including Blackburn’s Terry Bigland of Coffee Concepts who is not eligible as he pays his business rates in with his rent to the owner of the multi-occupancy complex where he has his trading unit.

Cllr Phil Riley, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s growth boss, said: “Business staff at the council are working incredibly hard to get the grant money out to businesses as soon as possible. The money from the government to pay these grants arrived in the council’s account last week and we are now able to move it onto local businesses as soon as the relevant checks have been done.

“We really understand the need to get funds out as quickly as possible and we are working around the clock to make this happen.

“This is a complex situation as we are the largest business base in Lancashire and have a huge amount of premises. Rest assured, if you have qualified for grants, you will soon be seeing some relief.”

His Burnley Council counterpart Cllr Gordon Birtwistle said: “I recognise this is a very difficult time for many of our businesses. The council`s teams are working hard to ensure we get grants to all eligible businesses as soon as possible.

“I`m delighted to say the first payments to 89 businesses have been made.”

Hyndburn Council Leader Cllr Miles Parkinson said; “Our staff have worked as quickly as possible and over the weekend to process the grants as soon as the money arrived."

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: “Businesses are the lifeblood of our communities, so this package is most welcome.”

Cllr Alyson Barnes, leader of Rossendale Council, said: “This is obviously a very challenging and worrying time. We are working extremely hard to help our vital and thriving businesses and their employees.”