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Gloucestershire Business News

Don't let grants go to waste urges FSB

Businesses and councils have been urged to ensure grants do not go to waste before the deadline for applications at the end of August.

Councils across England have distributed an average of 92 per cent of the funds allocated to them to help small businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic - meaning around £1.5billion of funds remain unspent.

And the Federation of Small Businesses has called on any remaining companies to apply and councils to ensure payments are processes as quickly as possible.

FSB chairman Mike Cherry said: "Small businesses have been through what for many has been and will be the most difficult period they have ever faced, and while things are slowly starting to improve, we're not out of the woods.

"That is why we are making this call for small firms to apply as soon as possible so that they don't miss out on grant funding that could prevent a business from going under.

"But to access these funds, small firms rely on their local councils to distribute the money in a fast and timely manner."

He continued: "Every local authority will know that long before this crisis struck, small firms were already facing huge difficulties with major chains leaving high streets, rising business rates and soaring employment costs.

"This is why councils simply cannot afford to delay in getting these funds out to businesses.

"Many councils have already handed out more than 90 per cent of their Small Business Grants which is good to see, but that means that more money remains which needs to be handed out."

The FSB is also calling on the Treasury to issue another £617million discretionary fund to help those left out.

"Now is the time for the Government and the Treasury to make the next step," said Mr Cherry.

"Back in May, a discretionary fund was set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of other grants, such as limited company directors and those in the supply chains of the leisure and retail sectors.

"Now is the time for this five per cent Discretionary Fund, to be repeated."

He continued: "We want to see this £617million fund issued to councils so that they can help small businesses that may have missed out on initial funding or may not qualify for other grants.

"This will go some way to helping councils safeguard the future of the local businesses and communities.

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

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