Council calls to give funds to businesses in 'missing middle'
By Rob Freeman | 3rd July 2020
Cotswold District Council has called on the Government to let it use unspent business support funding on the 'missing middle' of businesses.
Deputy leader Councillor Mike Evemy, cabinet member of finance, has written to Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng asking for greater freedom to support Cotswold businesses currently closed under coronavirus lockdown regulations.
The council has almost £2million left in unpaid grant money which Mr Evemy said could support at least 75 extra businesses.
He said: "I have suggested to the minister that councils be allowed to use money that remains unallocated from the government funding received for business grants to support the group of businesses unable to receive grants or access loans from any current scheme.
"These businesses count as small businesses by the traditional definition but are too large to be supported by discretionary grants for small and micro-businesses.
"We'd like to work with the Government to spend the remainder of the business grant money given to us on a scheme that lets businesses from that missing middle benefit from government support without any additional commitment of funds."
He continued: "With such a scheme in place, we could provide grants of £25,000 to 75 or so local businesses.
"The Treasury has put together a remarkable amount of support for businesses very rapidly and councils have played their part in getting money to businesses quickly.
"But it is clear there are businesses who need help but don't meet the criteria for any of the current grant schemes."
Mr Evemy wrote the letter after discussions with Caroline Bevan from Cirencester's Rugrats and Half Pints Soft Play, which is among the businesses he feels can be helped by such a move.
She said: "It means the world to us that the council is supporting us and calling on the Government to help our industry.
"Soft play facilities are so important to families in the area and we've worked incredibly hard to redevelop the centre and build a strong reputation.
"We know this is an important asset to the community and we are making changes to ensure families can return to the centre safely with confidence."
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