Call for action as Scarborough business missing out on millions of pounds in grants

The government is being urged to relax its grant funding rules to allow hundreds of businesses in Scarborough to benefit from millions of pounds in excess grants.

Monday, 24th August 2020, 8:30 am
Updated Monday, 24th August 2020, 8:36 am
Scarborough's main shopping area in Westborough

The Labour Party has urged ministers to save communities from “shuttered streets” as new analysis shows that thousands of businesses across the country are missing out on funding.

The party wants ministers to free up local councils to use the unspent grants from the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant and Small Business Grant Fund to support their local economies and businesses in distress.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma has written to councils telling them to return any unspent funds in a week’s time.

Scarborough Council has so far given out more than £59 million since the start of the pandemic to businesses, leaving it with approximately £9 million unspent from its government allocation.

Labour wants the cap on rateable value removed, to allow businesses valued at more than £51,000 to claim help. Under the scheme, they do not qualify for funding at present.

Analysis suggests 200 businesses in the Scarborough borough would fall into this category.

It also estimates that the remaining money in Scarborough could help more than 800 businesses in total using the average award of approximately £11,000 given out in the borough so far.

Last month, Labour called for the £1.7bn underspend to be turned into a Hospitality and High Streets Fightback Fund, with restrictions, eased so that more businesses could access the funding they need.

Lucy Powell MP, Labour’s Shadow Business and Consumers Minister, said: “With the UK now in recession, ministers must do all they can to stave off disaster on the high street.

“They have a week to change tack, and prevent shuttered high streets and a jobs meltdown.

“Rather than claw back these funds, ministers should back the high street and save jobs now.

“Many businesses are still in distress, with many still fully or partially shut down because of the continuing public health emergency. It’s vital that the government doesn’t think it’s job done when so many jobs and businesses are on the line.”

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has been approached for comment.