The Government is being urged to change the rules on business support grants before the schemes are closed at the end of this week.
Influential business groups including the Local Government Association, the Institute of Directors, the Federation of Small Businesses and the British Independent Retailers Association are also calling on the Government to extend the schemes, as businesses still urgently need support.
Support: More than £11billion has been distributed to some 880,000 small businesses since March by local authorities
Under the Government’s rules, the three funding schemes set up to support businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic – the Small Business Grants Fund, the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund and the Discretionary Grants Fund – are to close on Friday with any unclaimed funds to be returned to central Government.
So far, more than £11billion has been distributed to some 880,000 small businesses since March by local authorities. However, about £1.5billion remains unallocated. Many small businesses claim that they have been unfairly excluded from accessing the grants due to eligibility requirements and say that they still need financial help.
Richard Watts, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, says: ‘Councils need more time and flexibility to ensure as many businesses can benefit from this funding as possible.
‘The Government also needs to commit to redistributing any unspent resources from the original schemes to councils so that it can be spent on supporting local businesses and rebooting local economies.’