Thousands of small businesses are missing out on Coronavirus financial aid
Official government figures indicate thousands of businesses, across the UK, are potentially missing out on crucial financial aid made available during the Covid-19 crisis.
As the British high street continues to feel the strain of lockdown and social distancing measures, the Federation of Small Businesses has said it is “vital” funding is distributed to businesses.
The UK Government said they’re working with local councils to ensure funds get to small business owners throughout the crisis.
Over 96,000 businesses yet to receive grants
As of 28 June 2020, local authorities in England paid out £10.57 billion worth of funds to small and medium businesses as part of the Small Business Grants Fund scheme and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund.
As part of the scheme local authorities identified over 950,000 small and medium businesses which may have been eligible for grants worth thousands of pounds.
However, analysis by JPIMedia Data Unit can reveal that out of those identified for potential support, over 96,000 small and medium businesses are yet to receive grants.
Councils were allocated multi million pound funds to help ease the pressure that national lockdown has put on businesses.
Analysis shows 18 councils have paid out funds greater than their initial allocation, however, the UK Government told us that where councils spend their full allocation they can receive top up funding.
'It's vital that we get the money out there'
Federation of Small Businesses National Chair Mike Cherry said, “Every day that goes by for a small business without those cash grants is another day worrying about the future of their livelihoods.”
“That is why it is essential that councils get these funds issued as soon as possible and into the hands of small firms before it’s too late.”
“Now more than ever, it is vital that we get the money out there and back our small businesses.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said they are working with local councils to ensure funds get to “as many eligible small business owners as possible”.
The spokesperson added: “We urge councils to continue to work at pace so that all eligible businesses receive the grants they’re entitled to.
A lifeline for small businesses
As of June 30th, Scottish councils paid out over £920 million to small and medium businesses under the Small Business Grant Scheme and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grant Scheme.
However, of the 98,435 applications received, over 16,500 small and medium businesses have not received a grant.
Federation of Small Businesses (Scotland branch) Policy Manager Susan Love said the grants have been a “lifeline” for many.
“With a number of grant schemes about to close, it would be helpful to have a more detailed explanation of why thousands of applications have been rejected,” Ms Love said.
“As businesses begin to re-open after lockdown, we need to keep recovery on track and avoid the devastating impact of businesses being asked to close once, or multiple, times as a result of Test and Protect.
"That’s why we’ve called on the Scottish Government to consider a new financial support scheme to mitigate the impact of this scenario.”
The Scottish Government has stated that businesses have not received funding because they were not eligible, they did not apply, or their council is still processing the application.
A Scottish government spokesperson said, “We are working closely with local authorities to ensure a fair and consistent treatment of businesses across Scotland.”
“New applications for the schemes have slowed as a large number of businesses have already applied, but we remain committed to ensuring every penny we receive from the UK Government for business support - and more – will be passed to businesses.”
The closing date for grants in Scotland is Friday 10th July and grants will continue to be processed after the deadline.
The spokesperson added any remaining funds can be “re-routed” to help businesses in other ways.