£20m bailout for Northamptonshire businesses still sat in local authority accounts

Small business minister Paul Scully is appealing for business to apply for the grants to help them through the lockdown.Small business minister Paul Scully is appealing for business to apply for the grants to help them through the lockdown.
Small business minister Paul Scully is appealing for business to apply for the grants to help them through the lockdown.
The government minister for small business is appealing for Northants businesses that have not claimed to contact their local council.

The small business minister is appealing for the thousands of Northants businesses that have not claimed Covid-19 emergency grants to contact their local authority.

Paul Scully has made a specific appeal to Northamptonshire firms after £20m is still sat in the bank accounts of Northamptonshire local authorities when it could be helping firms to survive the economic effect of lockdown.

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Altogether £113m has been handed out to small businesses in the county as part of two major allocations specifically for rateable small businesses and firms in the leisure and hospitality sector.

The Government had given allocations to each local authority in an attempt to ensure local economies withstand the downturn and come out the other side of the lockdown with their business still viable.

Each local authority has dealt with the grant scheme in a different way – some automatically funding the businesses while others have asked the business to apply online.

Speaking this afternoon the MP said he had been told by Northants’ local authorities that there had been issues in some cases in which the local authority did not have bank payment details for the businesses.

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He said: “We are asking people to come forward and make themselves known to their local authority. We want to make sure we get the message out to every business that this is a grant, not a loan and will not have to be paid back.

“What we are finding is that there are still businesses coming forward, and this appeal from me is an attempt to make sure businesses get the financial support they need.”

He did say that if the money was not claimed then it could be handed back by local authorities to central government.

He said local councils had been working with business federations, councillors and MPs to spread the word about the grants but some were still falling down the cracks.

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Northampton Borough Council still has £7m to hand out according to latest figures from last week. It was given £37m by government but there are still 500 businesses that have not claimed. East Northamptonshire Council also has £4m left in its cash pot.

There had been an issue with some businesses not being eligible because they did not pay business rates due to renting a shared space, or had working from home arrangements.

To tackle this the government has handed out new discretionary pots to all councils to help those small businesses that fall outside the initial funding criteria.

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David Summers