Government Rejects Cornwall Council’s Plea For Funding For Small Businesses/ Self Employed Who Have Missed Out

Posted on: 25th July 2020

Government rejects Cornwall Council’s plea for funding to assist small businesses and many self employed who have fallen through funding gaps.

Cornwall Council was notified yesterday (July 24) by Secretary of State for Business Alok Sharma that all business support government grant schemes will close on August 28, with any unused funding having to be returned to the government.

The Council, backed by business leaders across Cornwall, has consistently called on government to increase funding for the discretionary business support scheme, because over 3,000 Cornish businesses have been ineligible to access other forms of Government coronavirus grant support. This latest announcement means that those pleas have fallen on deaf ears and is a kick in the teeth for those struggling local businesses.

Tim Dwelly, Cornwall Council portfolio holder for culture, economy and planning said:

“We recognise that the government’s funding packages have provided a lifeline to many businesses, but there simply wasn’t enough money made available in the first place to all those who needed it. To put it another way, despite what the government has claimed, this isn’t about everyone receiving their slice of the cake, it’s that the cake was never big enough.”

“We need up to £27m to be able to support over 3,000 businesses. We’re holding around £37m in ring-fenced funding from the original grants scheme that the government won’t allow us to use unless the businesses meet their original, tightly defined criteria.”

“Those missing out are otherwise healthy and thriving small and micro businesses that make an incredibly valuable contribution to the Cornish economy and they should not face the prospect of bankruptcy or closure just because they fall through the gaps of funding criteria.”

“If the government allowed us to use the money we have from a previous scheme, we could help those businesses protect jobs, and protect livelihoods. I call on Mr Sharma and Mr Sunak to reconsider their decision and provide our businesses with the help they so desperately need.” 

The Council has committed the £13.5m allocated to Cornwall for discretionary business grants and supported more than 1,200 businesses in sectors prioritised by the Government.

This leaves more than 3,000 businesses who have applied for the discretionary grant currently ineligible for other forms of Government aid except the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.

In addition, the Council has paid more than £233m in emergency grant money to more than 20,500 small businesses eligible under the government Business Support Grant scheme. Cornwall Council was highlighted and commended by the Government for the speed in which it passed on grants to local small businesses. Within days of receiving details of the criteria set out by Government, the Council had written to around 24,000 small businesses to explain how to apply. It was the first local authority in the UK to pass the £200m mark in pay outs.