Business West highlights grant delivery speeds by local authorities

Business West Bristol

With intense financial pressures on local businesses, differences in speed at government grant delivery among local authorities highlighted

Data compiled by the regional Chamber of Commerce, Business West, has highlighted the differences between local authorities in the region at getting much needed grant support paid to local businesses.

The information is being shared on Business West’s Trading Through Coronavirus web support service, to help businesses understand how soon they can expect to receive any grants they are eligible for and stresses the need for business to apply in order to get money.

Director of Policy at Business West, Matt Griffith, commented: “Coronavirus is putting intense financial pressures on many of our region’s small and medium sized businesses, with some facing critical days with survival in the balance, with drastically reduced income putting severe pressure on cash flow and reserves.”

With a generous package of interventions announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak over previous weeks, many businesses are now waiting for this support to reach them. The government’s small business grants package was announced by the Chancellor on 17th March and aims to provide cash grants of £10,000 and £25,000 to businesses who were either paying business rates or previously benefited from the small business rates relief scheme. Delivery and administration of the scheme is being run by local authorities, with money already provided by central government.

“Business West is urging local authorities to help get government cash support out to business as quickly as possible.” Matt Griffith said.

“Many of our local authorities are working incredibly hard, with many working over the Easter Bank Holiday to deliver grants to local businesses. However, there is still considerable variation in how well councils are doing. Some, like Gloucester City Council have now paid 68% of eligible businesses, whereas others are struggling to get up to speed to the scale of the crisis.”

“This is the biggest economic shock to hit the country since the Great Depression of the 1930s. For many businesses government support now is what stands between survival and going to the wall. But timing is critical – with staff costs and bills to pay, many can’t afford to wait. This is why we are urging all local authorities and central government to get money to firms as rapidly as is practicable.”

Business West is also highlighting the need for businesses to actively apply to receive the small business grants from their local authority.

Griffith continued: “When the scheme was originally announced, government said that businesses would not need to apply to receive the money. However, this has changed and to get a grant, businesses have to apply direct to their local authority with some basic financial information in order to prevent fraud. Our work has highlighted high numbers of eligible firms who haven’t applied – for example over 30% of eligible firms in Bristol. We are working with local authorities to urge eligible businesses to apply as soon as they can.”

“We are concerned that many smaller businesses working from business premises will be unaware that they are ineligible, as they would not have previously paid business rates due to small business rates relief. It is vital that available funds are claiming by trading businesses, and not left unclaimed or claimed by landlords instead.”