North East Derbyshire independent business owner criticises council for lack of support during lockdown
An independent business owner has criticised North East Derbyshire District Council for ‘failing’ to support small companies when the area was plunged into Tier Three lockdown last year.
The Barlow resident labelled the local authority ‘discriminatory’ after he claims they did not issue businesses with a rateable value of less than £15,000 funds from the Government’s Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSGO)– after Derbyshire entered the highest level of coronavirus restrictions at the time on November 26.
The business owner, who requested to remain anonymous, received a cash grant of up to £467 for each 14 day period his photographic studio was operating under Tier Two restrictions.
But the entrepreneur, said he received no financial relief from North East Derbyshire District Council when he was forced to close in December as part of Tier Three – plunging him into £900 worth of credit card debt.
Last year, the Government stated that companies who were severely impacted because of the level two or level three restrictions would potentially be eligible for money from the LRSGO fund.
However local authorities were awarded discretion to provide grants for businesses under the scheme.
North East Derbyshire District Council said they received ‘significantly lower’ funding for the Tier Three period, than they did for Tier Two, adding they were ‘not in a position’ to support every businesses was previously awarded a grant.
"North East Derbyshire District Council have put a blanket ban with any business with a rateable value of less than £15,000 accessing that grant”, the business owner said.
"I am seeing this as discrimination against small businesses, they have just allocated all the money to the bigger businesses, despite the Government clearly saying we are eligible and we can get it."
Since all non-essential businesses were forced to close across the country as part of the third national lockdown, the Barlow resident received has received around £1,300 a month in Government relief for his business.
But he is concerned his photographic studio would ‘struggle to survive’ if plans to reopen hairdressers and hospitality on April 12 as part of the Prime Minister’s lockdown exit strategy do not go ahead.
A spokesperson for North East Derbyshire District Council said: “Whilst the Government website notes that businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or less may be eligible for a grant, due to the Council being allocated a significantly lower amount of funding for the Tier 3 period than it received for the Tier 2, period it was not in a position to support every business who was awarded a Tier 2 LRSGO grant, making it necessary to implement another level of eligibility criteria which is fair and non-discriminatory to all local businesses.
"We continually monitor the applications received and resources available to help us assess where we can amend our criteria to distribute the funding as widely as possible.
"Any previous LRSGO recipient would be automatically reconsidered should the criteria change and would not need to submit a further application form.
"We recognise the challenges faced by our local businesses due to the pandemic and are doing all we can to support them.
"We have given out over £29m in grants to more than 2000 businesses in the district and the council is always happy to assist applicants with any queries with their application.”