"Local assessment and management of support is needed"
By Rob Freeman | 3rd February 2021
The launch of a £12million grant scheme by Lincolnshire County Council to support small businesses who missed out on government coronavirus support has prompted calls for other authorities to follow suit.
With the Federation of Small Business urging similar schemes from local authorities across the country, Punchline-Gloucester.com asked leading business figures in Gloucestershire for their views.
Tax partner, Randall & Payne
"Seeing a local authority taking action to help those that have genuinely missed out is really very encouraging, but such support should be targeted at specific businesses and people that are struggling.
"While some businesses in certain sectors are really struggling, others have done exceptionally well and this type of support should be provided to those that really need it rather than a blanket approach.
"There are many people and businesses that have missed out from government support schemes introduced last year, for the most genuine of reasons, given the speed of their introduction, the ease in which the grants were calculated and also to try to ensure support was targeted to those who needed it and any opportunity to fill this gap is always welcome.
"Newly self-employed individuals and sole director companies were key omissions from the existing nationwide schemes and any new support should include such businesses - however, with several news stories about the cost to the exchequer of fraudulent claims, these would need to be discretionary and have a robust, yet speedy, application and review process."
"Firstly, it must be said the Government has done a commendable job in providing financial support in various forms to many businesses across all sectors throughout the UK.
"Understandably, most of these packages have addressed larger businesses with a visible financial footprint in 2019 and before.
"Almost inevitably, many smaller, newer businesses have been excluded by way of eligibility. This applies to many companies where directors are able to take dividends as their main source of income.
"Many of these excluded businesses fall under the existing income support benefits radar, and for that reason it has to be more locally managed and governed.
"The Lincolnshire County Council scheme might appear to be small in the grand scheme, but could provide a lifeline for many.
"Local assessment and management is really what is needed. The centrally funded schemes bypass many of these smaller enterprises.
"Funding can be devolved to a local basis, and we then need to trust our local council and authorities, with the help of bodies such as the FSB, to have the correct assessment process for fair distribution of whatever can be made available.
"It could make a huge difference to the lifeblood of many in our local communities, while the potential knock-on positive effect in our local economies cannot be overlooked either."
Gloucestershire director, Business West
"This is a good idea which could certainly be adopted by other county councils.
"I would have thought this money has been found through the Government's discretionary grants given to local government but often very poorly promoted.
"If you lumped all these grants together in this way, you would have some sizeable sums which could be applied for by companies which have fallen through the Chancellor's compensation net.
"This is all about packaging and promotion. The complexity of these local authority grants have been an irritant to many small business directors who often feel they have to go through reams of paperwork just to get £1,000."
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