A THIRD round of funding has been made available to help Cambridgeshire country pubs stay open for business.

A THIRD round of funding has been made available to help Cambridgeshire country pubs stay open for business.

Any rural pub in the county can apply for a grant of up to £1,500 to use towards business development and revenue expenditure costs.

The money is provided through Business Link, the Government-sponsored small firms' advisory service, and financed by the soon-to-be-superseded East of England Development Agency (EEDA).

In the first instance, publicans should contact Business Link on 08457 171615. Business Link advisers will then undertake a confidential and independent review of the pub business, providing a 'health check' that will highlight potential areas for development, such as marketing, training and financial planning, to help the business grow and improve its customer base.

Grants can be allocated to help publicans focus on the areas of their business that are most in need, Business Link in the East said.

Edwin Jones, BLE's rural affairs partnership director, said: “So far, more than 200 pubs have benefited from grants awarded during the course of the initial funding rounds. From website development, to structural improvements and marketing campaigns, publicans have embraced the opportunity to seek external advice from a Business Link adviser and successfully implement a plan of action.

“This additional funding has come at a crucial time for the industry as, in our increasingly challenging economy, many pubs have been forced to call last orders for good. Through identifying and addressing areas for improvement, publicans can survive, thrive and stay open for business for years to come.”

Grants will be awarded to rural pubs that meet the qualification criteria and work with a Business Link adviser to improve their business. There are up to 70 grants available until February 2011, and these will be awarded on a first-come-first-served basis, so Cambs publicans should act quickly to avoid missing out, BLE urged.

INFORMATION: Business Link is on 08457 17 16 15 or www.businesslink.co.uk/east