FIRMS in Papworth, Cambourne, Fen Drayton and surrounding areas can now get grants of up to \u00A31,000 from Council Tax towards the cost of specialist support and training to help them survive the economic downturn. From September, South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) will offer qualifying local businesses access to its Business Support Fund, delivered in partnership with Business Link, to SMEs and those that can demonstrate financial hardship because of the current recession. Claims must be made by recommendation to Business Link, where a trained adviser will determine eligibility as well as the type of support and training required. SCDC champion for business and employment Councillor Mervyn Loynes said: "The fund is primarily there to support organisations that are most likely to be affected by a slowing economy. We would encourage anyone who knows a business that meets the eligibility criteria to recommend them. "Awards will be made on a fair basis following a diagnosis report and action plan carried out by a Business Link adviser." Steve Clarke, partnership director for Business Link Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, added: "This package will really help local businesses, making funding available for actions that will help sustain and grow businesses, both now and as a firm basis for the future. I would wholeheartedly encourage businesses to take up this opportunity." The South Cambridgeshire Business Support Fund forms just part of a programme of activity that SCDC is rolling out to help the economy to stay as robust as it can during challenging times. SCDC set aside 2.4 per cent of its 2009\/10 Council Tax increase - a total of \u00A3150,000 - for practical measures to support business in South Cambridgeshire. The fund, which is a limited fund of \u00A350,000, is available from September 2009. Claims must be made by March 31 next year. INFORMATION: Contact Business Link on 08457 171615 or via www.businesslink.gov.uk\/east. In circumstances where more than one type of advice and\/or training is required, following diagnosis by the Business Link adviser, another \u00A31,000 may be rewarded depending on the merits of the case. HARDSHIP HELP: Pictured at the launch of SCDC's Business Support Fund are, from left, its economic development officer Nicole Kritzinger, its champion for business and employment Cllr Mervyn Loynes and cabinet member with responsibility for economic development Cllr Nick Wright with Business Link's Steve Clarke.