BLACKBURN with Darwen Council is now geared up to pay government grants to businesses hit by the latest coronavirus lockdown.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced one-off top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help those required to close by law through to the Spring.

The sums are £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under; £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000; and £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000

Borough regeneration boss Cllr Phil Riley said the council would make payments as soon as possible.

Other businesses can now apply for the next round of Discretionary Grants until January 17.

They are aimed at supporting those businesses which do not have a Business Rates assessment, such as those in shared accommodation. They will also support businesses which are still open but severely impacted by the restrictions.

Cllr Riley said: "This new support from the government is very much needed. Our local businesses have suffered more than most.

"We have opened up more discretionary grants for businesses not eligible for the main support grants and we hope this will go some way to help as well."