A popular Bishopton restaurant and a Paisley-based international corporate training company are among 123 businesses to have benefited so far from a tailored Renfrewshire Council Coronavirus support fund.

More than £480,000 has been awarded through Renfrewshire Council’s Renfrewshire Coronavirus Business Support Fund helping businesses address the immediate impact of the pandemic.

It adds to around 6,000 grants – totalling £44million of Scottish Government funding – distributed by the Council to help people self-employed and businesses across a wide range of sectors since the outset of the pandemic.

The Council’s own support fund was created after consultation with 500 local companies, offering loans and match-funded grants to help with short-term cashflow, meet changed objectives and adapt commercial premises.

For Brian Cunningham, co-owner of Angelini’s Italian restaurant in Bishopton, an adaptation grant proved vital in enabling them to keep trading.

He said: “We needed to adapt the layout as it was too small to accommodate enough customers sitting in and manage takeaway collections, while meeting the Covid guidelines.  The Council grant allowed us to remove a wall and put down flooring which opened up our restaurant, and this worked well together with all the appropriate safety measures which our customers love.

“We would not have been able to trade efficiently if this grant wasn’t received so it was most welcome at that time as financially every penny counted in our quest to help Angelini’s survive the pandemic whilst keeping up to 15 staff in work.

“We appreciate all the support the government and local authority have provided us to date and fingers crossed we will come out the back of this situation stronger than when it hit us.”

Another business supported through the Council fund is RSVP Design, who benefited from a resilience grant to develop a range of online executive training activities.

First established in 2003, the company exports games and puzzles to business schools, HR departments and training consultant customers worldwide from its Abbey Mill Business Centre offices, with 70% of products delivered overseas to the USA, Europe and Asia.

Managing Director Graham Cook, from Brookfield, said: “We had our best year in 2019, but then the impact of Coronavirus has been dramatic. Our products are designed for people getting together for face-to-face training and by March 2020 we went to 10% of our sales volume.

“Everyone apart from myself was on furlough and sadly we had to let two of our team go, drawing down from a Bounce Back loan to keep the business going.

“We were contacted by customers about online versions of our products, so we looked into this and managed to get our first commercial product launched as early as April. We then found not having our own software platform was creating access issues with some of our larger customers, so we started investing in a new platform, with the grant funding from Renfrewshire Council helping towards this.

“It was very easy to apply for and was quickly turned around, with payment made within a couple of days of our first claim and we would not be operating without this support. We are now starting post COVID planning, we know the next period will be very hard, but we will continue to invest and create more online products, giving us a potential new income stream.”

The fund is open now for online applications on the Council website where details of all available support is set out.

Next week, the second phase of the Discretionary Business Grant will be open for applications, supporting small and microbusinesses who are experiencing the most disruption but have been ineligible for other grant support.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “I am acutely aware of the immense pressure and challenge the many brilliant businesses in Renfrewshire continue to face as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“These businesses are run by local people, our neighbours, friends and family, providing important services, hospitality and local jobs and I want them to know that the Council continues to do everything it can to support them at this tough time.

“Financial support has been critical in helping businesses survive and our teams are working tirelessly to ensure the Council and government funds reach businesses as quickly as possible, while our business advisers are on hand to provide specialist support and direct business owners to available support.

“We established our own fund listening to what our business community told us could make the greatest impact and I’m pleased to hear that it is being well received. The creation of the discretionary grant is also making a difference locally, targeting assistance to people self-employed and local traders who may have been ineligible for other grant assistance.

“We continue to work with the Scottish Government and local partners to support Renfrewshire businesses, enabling them to innovate, adapt and become more resilient, working to provide the right business and funding support to ensure not only their survival, but their future development and growth.”

Full details on available support for local businesses is detailed on the Council website at: www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/coronavirus-businesses

The Council’s inhouse Business Gateway team is available to provide support and assistance by calling 0141 530 2406 or emailing renfrewshire@bgateway.com.