TIME is running out for small businesses in York to apply for a slice of £20,000 as a timely post-lockdown boost.

Applications to the York Restart Fund have more than doubled in the past week with about 70 small operators vying for a share of the money to help with recovery.

The deadline for entries is midnight on Friday, April 30, 2021 and must be submitted on a dedicated page of the First York website www.firstbus.co.uk/York20KRestartFund

Among those who have already entered is a cake shop owner who also teaches cake making, and wants to expand the choice of classes with more equipment to continue teaching in a Covid-secure environment.

First Bus York launched the fund just under two weeks ago, with support from the Federation of Small Businesses in North Yorkshire which helped to draw up the criteria and will be involved with assessing applications.

Marc Bichtemann, managing director of the bus operator, said: “We’ve been delighted by the rapid response of independent businesses and impressed by the ideas and ingenuity they are showing to build back stronger.”

The York Restart Fund is open to businesses across the city, and is designed to support plans by independent owners and small firms in consumer sectors to grow their customer base as non-essential retail and hospitality re-opens in the coming weeks.

The fund will make awards of £1,000 to 15 successful applicants.

The remaining £5,000 will be shared between three of these businesses who come out on top in a people’s vote on First York's website and social media.

Carolyn Frank, development manager of the FSB, said York was a city of independents, so it was vital that people got involved with projects like this.

“The fantastic response to First Bus York’s recovery fund is testament to the innovative thinking of small businesses in York and we can’t wait to see the projects underway.

"York is experiencing a strong bounce back from lockdown thanks to its independent microbusiness sector.”

Entries will be assessed by a panel, including Marc, Carolyn and FSB’s regional chair, Simon Williams, who runs Yorkshire Express Services in York.

Judging is set to be held next week with successful businesses informed during the week commencing May 10.

Marc added: “There’s still time to apply and I would encourage York’s small business owners to get thinking how the fund could give them a boost.

"We’ve deliberately made this a short process as we want to make the awards in May to help businesses put their plans into action as quickly as possible.”

First York is the largest bus operator in the region and operates the York Park & Ride scheme in conjunction with City of York Council.