Shropshire firms handed more than £100 million to cope during pandemic

More than £100 million has been paid to Shropshire businesses struggling with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to new figures.

More than £100m has been given to businesses in the county struggling with the impact of the pandemic.
More than £100m has been given to businesses in the county struggling with the impact of the pandemic.

The numbers lay bare the scale of the devastating affect the coronavirus crisis has had on firms – and how councils have tried to help steer them through the lockdown using Government funds.

Shropshire Council had paid out £80.1m to businesses in the area by August 9, while Telford & Wrekin Council distributed £29.6m, figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy show.

For Shropshire, it means the council has paid out 87 per cent of the money available and in Telford it is 84 per cent, meaning £11.6m and £5.7m respectively has not yet been claimed.

The money has come from two government schemes, the Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund.

Under the scheme, grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 were made available for small and medium-sized businesses to support them through the pandemic.

Both close on Friday, with the Local Government Association (LGA) calling for councils to use any leftover cash to divert into helping revive local economies.

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

Councils across England had paid out 88 per cent of the £12.3 billion in funding by August 9, which meant £1.5bn was still available across the country.

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. That also closes on Friday.

Separate Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy figures show £1.5m had been paid out to Telford and Wrekin businesses through the fund by July 5, and £1.4m in Shropshire. Across England, the figure stood at around £239m.

Prop up

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

“For small businesses, councils and government, now is not the time to delay,” said the group’s national chairman Mike Cherry.

“With some sectors still struggling to reopen, local lockdowns curtailing efforts by firms to get back to business and the spectre of a potential second wave of the virus, we must act now and take the necessary steps needed to prop up small firms who are the backbone of the economy.”

A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesman added: “Around 92 per cent of eligible small businesses nationally have now received government grants totalling almost £11bn as part of a wider package of support for businesses worth £160bn.

"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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