Emergency coronavirus funding for companies will return to the Treasury on the finish of the month if it isn’t claimed, enterprise leaders have stated.
Four months after £12bn was launched to assist them via the coronavirus pandemic, £1.5bn is unclaimed.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) warned the cash was sitting in councils’ financial institution accounts.
The authorities stated it was working with councils to succeed in eligible companies.
Emergency grants for companies in England have been introduced on 17 March.
Lump sums of £10,000, via the Small Business Grant Fund, and £25,000 via the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, have been meant to assist companies’ money flows in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.
As of three August, £10.8bn had been paid out to almost 900,000 companies, leaving £1.5bn but to succeed in almost 80,000 eligible companies by late August, according to official data.
The figures counsel a couple of in 5 companies in areas similar to Wealden, South Lakeland and South Somerset haven’t claimed grants.
Of the 314 English councils distributing the cash, 291 have a minimum of one enterprise entitled to assist that has not acquired it.
The figures additionally counsel there are 24 authorities that paid out greater than they have been allotted. Westminster City Council paid £17m greater than it was allotted.
Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, urged companies to use for the grant funding, however added it shouldn’t be returned to the federal government if it was not claimed by the deadline.
“There are many small companies who aren’t eligible, so the federal government ought to widen the factors to these on the periphery,” he stated.
He added the cash could be a “Godsend” for companies overlooked by the “restrictive standards” for the grant, similar to companies in provide chains to different small ventures.
‘Sitting within the council’s financial institution’
Wirral Council held £14.7m of unspent funding as of the top of July.
Councillor Ian Lewis stated: “From my discussions with enterprise homeowners and shopkeepers in Wallasey, some don’t realise that this can be a grant, not a mortgage, so it would not must be repaid. Even companies that have been in a position to keep open are eligible.
“It could be tragic if companies shut or jobs are misplaced as a result of they don’t apply for this cash – it is actually sitting within the council’s financial institution ready to be claimed.”
Who is eligible?
Businesses can apply for one of many following funds:
- For the small companies grant they should be primarily based in England, occupy property for enterprise use and have been eligible for reduction on varied charges by 11 March 2020.
- To entry the retail, hospitality and leisure grant the enterprise should be primarily used as a venue for hospitality, retail or leisure. Some charities also can apply.
Brent Council in London stated it was telling companies in “any approach we are able to” in regards to the grants, because the borough didn’t need to hand again any of its £4.5m remaining funds to the federal government.
Councillor Shama Tatler stated it was “a shock” the federal government was trying to “finish the schemes and demand the cash again”, earlier than all eligible companies had been contacted.
“We now also have a staff of officers bodily knocking on individuals’s doorways and urging them to say earlier than the deadline,” she stated.
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy stated: “We are working with native councils to make sure funds get to as many eligible small enterprise homeowners as attainable.
“Businesses which might be eligible however haven’t but acquired grant funding ought to converse to their native council as quickly as attainable.”
Additional reporting by: Anna Khoo and the Local Democracy Reporting Service