Limited £1.4 million fund launched to help Telford small businesses
A new £1.4 million funding pot is being unveiled to help small businesses in the Telford cope with the effects of the coronavirus crisis.
But Telford & Wrekin Council claims the Discretionary Business Grants Fund will exclude many manufacturers which form the backbone of the borough's economy when it is launched on Monday.
It said it will ask Telford MP Lucy Allan and Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard to lobby in Whitehall for more cash.
A total of £1.47m is available for this limited pot which will allow small and micro businesses who fell through the net of the Government’s initial business support scheme to submit a new application.
Proprietors must apply afresh even if their previous bid for a coronavirus business support grant was rejected.
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The council said that due to the limited value of this fund and the government criteria applied, it expects to have no discretion over who it allocates it to.
Telford & Wrekin finance and governance chief Councillor Rae Evans said: “This new scheme will open as a matter of urgency on Monday 25 May as there are many borough businesses desperate for help.
“However, we are deeply disappointed because the conditions set by Government and the limited value of the funding provided, offers too little help to too few businesses. It feels like we’re being set up to fail.
“The Government’s criteria essentially leaves many manufacturers high and dry, while we expect applications to quickly outstrip the fund’s value, meaning that many businesses in real need will not get the help that they so badly require."
This latest scheme will not be open to those businesses awarded money from the Small Business grant fund which opened in April, providing £35m. The council has paid out more than £27m to over 2,300 businesses from it.
Eligible local businesses can apply for the smaller fund via telford.gov.uk/discretionarygrants from 9am on Monday. The deadline is 5pm on Friday, May 29.
Eligible businesses must have relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs, be able to demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the Covid-19 crisis, have fewer than 50 employees, were trading on March 11, 2020, and occupy property, or part of property, with a rateable value or annual rent or mortgage payments below £51,000.
Priority will be given to those in shared offices or other flexible workspaces, such as units on industrial parks, and incubator units, which do not have their own business rates assessment, regular market traders, bed and breakfasts, and charity properties.
Applications will be assessed during early June.
Grants will be set at either £25,000 or up to £10,000 based on demand, rent or mortgage payments.
Bed and breakfasts will need to provide a copy of their lease or tenancy agreement, bank statements, and accreditation details.
Telford & Wrekin economy chief Councillor David Wright said: “We have no scope to support many companies who have come to us because they fall outside the parameters set by Government.
“When the Government announced its £617 million allocation for this on May 2 we expected to receive a share of this, but initial indications are that only a handful of councils nationally will receive funding from this pot.
“Many businesses will be deeply disappointed either because they aren’t in one of the Government’s priority categories or, because of the fund’s value, we simply can’t provide the level of support they need to keep going.
“I will be urging our MPs to lobby for borough businesses who continue to fall through the cracks because the Government has made it nigh on impossible for us to support them.”