Hundreds of Cumbrian businesses have asked for a cut of the multi-million-pound Government fund put together to help soften the blow of COVID-19 on trading across the county.

Councils have been inundated with applications for a sum from the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund, which opened on Monday to help businesses hit hard by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting restrictions imposed by the Government.

The fund offers grants of up to £25,000 to firms with fewer than 50 staff that haven’t received either the Coronavirus Small Business or Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grants.

Carlisle City Council has been contacted by 218 businesses so far looking to secure some of the £1.36million it has been allocated to distribute.

John Mallinson, leader of the city council, said: “We want to support as many businesses as we can and will do all we can to process the applications and make payments as quickly as we can.

"The two-week application period means that it won’t be a first-come-first-served approach.

"We want to give all eligible businesses the opportunity to apply.

"Our online application makes the process as easy as possible, but of course we will also accept hard copy application forms too.

"We urge businesses to read the eligibility criteria before applying.”

Allerdale Council – which has been allocated £1.995million – and Copeland Council – allocated £853,250 – received 51 and 44 applications respectively this week, while Eden Council had more than 50 applications during the first 24 hours of the scheme for its £1.3million share.

Web traffic has been high on the section of Allerdale Council’s website dedicated to the fund,  a spokesman said, and more applications are expected as people have time to collate the required information.

A spokesman for Eden Council said: "Further application windows may be opened if there is any remaining funding.

"However, with the current rate of applications, it is expected that the fund will be oversubscribed and therefore businesses are encouraged to submit their applications within the current application window."

Business owners have until 12pm on Monday, June 15 to apply to Carlisle City Council and until 5pm that day to apply to Allerdale or Copeland councils. Eden will close applications at midnight on Sunday, June 14.

To apply, visit the website of the relevant city, borough or district council to access guidance and the application form.

Grants will not be issued until after applications have closed.