The British Independent Retailers’ Association (Bira) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) are warning independent retailers and small businesses that a large chunk of unclaimed funds allocated to help them get through the pandemic will return to the treasury by the end of August.
According to recent news reports, £1.5 billion of the £12bn grants allocation still remains in local authority bank accounts (as of August 3) and 80,000 small businesses are still eligible for grants.
The Government says it is working with local councils to make sure funding reaches all those entitled to it. However, Bira and the FSB have said the vital funds should not be return to the treasury at the end of the month. Instead Bira is urging the Government to allow more time to find eligible businesses, and the FSB wants to see eligibility criteria widened.
The associations are urging eligible businesses to contact local councils immediately. There are two types of grants: one for small businesses based in England, occupying property and that were eligible for relief on various rates by 11 March 2020, and the other specifically for retail, hospitality or leisure.
Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s ceo said: “I am concerned by the amount of money given to local authorities to give grants to retail and hospitality businesses.
“We have been made aware that some local authorities are holding on to millions of pounds of unallocated grant money.
“This money has been unclaimed, probably because the business rating list used by local authorities is not accurate and some businesses will no longer exist.
“However, having allocated the money to support businesses, it makes sense to allow local authorities to further support independent retailers who continue to experience severe problems with their business in the current crisis.
“The money has been allocated once and should be used rather than returned back to the Treasury.”
Meanwhile, Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses commented: “There are many small businesses who aren’t eligible, so the government should widen the criteria to those on the periphery.”
Top: Cash is going unclaimed – are you (or do you know) an eligible retailer or small business that is missing out?