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Redbridge businesses receive tens of millions in Covid support

PUBLISHED: 07:00 25 August 2020

The small business grants funds are set to expire on August 28 but the Local Government Association says councils should be able to keep any leftover cash to revive local economies. Picture: PA/Jeff J Mitchell

The small business grants funds are set to expire on August 28 but the Local Government Association says councils should be able to keep any leftover cash to revive local economies. Picture: PA/Jeff J Mitchell

PA Wire/PA Images

Struggling businesses in Redbridge have received tens of millions of pounds through schemes to help them survive the Covid-19 crisis, figures reveal.

Sean Lowery, owner of Steel Beauty, one of the oldest businesses in Gants Hill was one of the recipients of the small business grant. Picture: Sean LowerySean Lowery, owner of Steel Beauty, one of the oldest businesses in Gants Hill was one of the recipients of the small business grant. Picture: Sean Lowery

But with just days left for local firms to claim millions more in untouched funds, the Local Government Association says councils should be able to keep any leftover cash to revive local economies.

In March, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 for small and medium-sized businesses to support them through the pandemic.

Redbridge Council had paid £44.7 million to business properties in the area by August 9, the latest Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy figures show – 90per cent of the money available.

But this means that £4.9 million was yet to reach local enterprises.

Emma Kilby, owner of Gems Hairdressing, first applied for her grant on April 2 and only received it after being featured in an Ilford Recorder story on the council's slow pace at paying out the grants. Picture: Emma KilbyEmma Kilby, owner of Gems Hairdressing, first applied for her grant on April 2 and only received it after being featured in an Ilford Recorder story on the council's slow pace at paying out the grants. Picture: Emma Kilby

The cash is provided for a business property so firms with multiple outlets can receive more than one payment.

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A third Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund worth up to £25,000 was launched in May for small and micro businesses that are not eligible for the other schemes, which also closes on August 28.

Redbridge council declined to give data on how much money was paid out through the discretionary grant fund and did not provide comment on this article.

According to the LGA, the Government has told councils it will shut the schemes – the Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund – on August 28.

It added that any unclaimed funds will need to be returned.

Councils across England had paid out 88pc of the £12.3 billion in funding by August 9, which means £1.5 billion was still available.

Richard Watts, chairman of the LGA’s resources board, said: “The Government needs to commit to redistributing any unspent resources from the original schemes, including any clawed back, to councils to be spent on local efforts to help further support businesses and reboot local economies.”

A BEIS spokeswoman said: “Around 92pc of eligible small businesses nationally have now received government grants totalling almost £11 billion, as part of a wider package of support for businesses worth £160 billion. We are working with local councils to ensure funds get to as many eligible small business owners as possible.

“Businesses that are eligible but have not yet received grant funding should speak to their local council as soon as possible.”


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