£1.5 billion in emergency Coronavirus funding unclaimed by businesses in England

Recent BBC reports suggest that despite the UK’s smallest businesses accessing over £12bn in emergency funding over the last four months, more that £1.5bn remains unclaimed. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) warns that unless eligible businesses act quickly, unclaimed funds will be returned to the Treasury at the end of August.

Emergency grants for small businesses in England were announced on 17 March to provide lump sum payments including a £10,000 Small Business Grant Fund, and a £25,000 payment available through the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, both of which were intended to help support business cash flow through the pandemic.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are understood to be working with local councils to reach as many eligible businesses as possible to raise awareness of the funding whilst this remains available. A spokesperson for BEIS said:

“Businesses that are eligible but have not yet received grant funding should speak to their local council as soon as possible.”

The Local Government Association (LGA) has said that local authorities need more time and flexibility to ensure businesses benefited from the funding.

According to official Government data cited by the BBC report, it is suggested that as of 3 August, £10,8bn had been paid out to almost 900,000 businesses, suggesting that the unclaimed amount is yet to reach a further 80,000 eligible businesses in England.

It was also cited that of the 314 English councils distributing the money, 291 have at least one eligible business entitled to support that has not yet received it.

FSB Chairman, Mike Cherry, urged firms in England to apply for the grant funding ahead of the deadline, saying that the money would be a “Godsend” for many of the UK’s smallest businesses.

Under the grant funding schemes, businesses can apply for one of the following funds:

  • For the small businesses grant they must be based in England, occupy property for business use and have been eligible for relief on various rates by 11 March 2020.
  • To access the retail, hospitality and leisure grant the business must be mainly used as a venue for hospitality, retail, or leisure. Some charities may also apply.

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