The much anticipated second round of the SME Restart and Recovery Grants opened earlier this week and made an even briefer appearance than it did last month with the system overwhelmed by applications in a matter of minutes. You have probably seen this message:

This morning our website was overwhelmed by unprecedented demand – with over 150,000 requests made in relation to the EOI form for the SME Restart and Recovery Grants at the same time.

We have taken the decision to temporarily suspend applications while a solution is sought to cope with this demand. We appreciate this is frustrating and many of you have put time aside to complete the application. However, our aim is to provide a solution that avoids a re occurrence of this morning’s crash. We will update our social media posts as soon as we have further details. Thanks for your patience.

This is hugely disappointing. The grant is a vital lifeline for many businesses and it's simply not good enough.

Many of our businesses have been waiting to apply for the grant since August 10th and the North East LEP should have anticipated that level of demand when it created its unnecessary "bunfight" on Tuesday. Here's just one of dozens of emails we received on the topic this week:

“I wasted hours on 15th Sept trying to apply for the grant having missed out last time due to an error on their website which wouldn't allow my forms to be submitted. The constant uncertainty isn't great, and is having a huge impact on my business”.

Surely there has to be a better way to do this?