Scarborough businesses receive tens of millions in Covid support

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

Friday, 21st August 2020, 8:10 am
Updated Friday, 21st August 2020, 8:35 am
Scarborough Borough Council had paid £59.2 million to business properties in the area by August 9, figures show.

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.

Scarborough Borough Council had paid £59.2 million to business properties in the area by August 9, the latest Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) figures show – 87% of the money available. But this means that £9.1 million was yet to reach local enterprises.

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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.

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 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.

The Federation of Small Businesses is calling for another round of the discretionary grant – worth up to £617 million – to be issued to councils.

A BEIS spokeswoman said: “Around 92% 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.”

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