Havant business criticises government and council over ‘unfair’ coronavirus support grants
A LOCAL businessman has criticised the government and Havant Borough Council over what he says is the ‘unfair distribution’ of coronavirus support grants which he feels is making it difficult for some businesses to survive the pandemic.
Kevin Parlett, 38, who is a director at Printer Graphics in Havant, has said a ‘loophole’ in the applications process has resulted in businesses such as his not getting any government grants during the pandemic – a decision which could leave him without a premises after his landlords have also proposed to increase his rent.
While Mr Parlett accepts his business rates at £24,000 are above the eligibility cut off point (£15,000) for the £10,000 Small Business Grant he feels he should be entitled to the £25,000 support available to larger businesses.
Mr Parlett said: ‘I have a serious concern about a loophole within the grant scheme of who’s being awarded what.
‘There are seven business units around us which are of similar size and they are all getting some form of grant support – most the higher £25,000. During the pandemic we were down about 90 per cent on our normal income. This has started to pick up but we are still not at 50 per cent of what it would normally be.
‘On top of this our landlords are talking about putting the rent up by £8,000 a year.’
Mr Parlett said the additional money would have been vital to cover both financial losses and the potential rent increase.
The dispute centres on the eligibility criteria to qualify for the higher rate grant. The government website states ‘properties eligible for the grant will be those that are wholly or mainly being used as a hospitality, retail, or leisure venue’.
While as a printing company Mr Parlett accepts there is a significant industrial commercial element to the business he feels he should be eligible under the ‘retail’ criteria.
‘One of the retail areas listed is stationery which I believe we should qualify for. We have a whole retail demonstration room which sells stationary and prints to the general public,’ said Kevin.
While sympathetic to Mr Parlett’s situation, the council said its hands are tied by the criteria.
A spokesman said: ‘We appreciate that this is a difficult time for local businesses and it's a top priority to support all of the businesses that we can to survive the coronavirus crisis.
‘The criteria for these grants are set by the government and unfortunately, not every business will be eligible.’
Kevin responded: ‘It’s unfair that businesses such as mine are not getting any grant support.’
HBC was criticised earlier in the pandemic with claims of delays in getting grant payments out to businesses.
The HBC spokesman added: ‘We have provided Small Business and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grants to 1,316 businesses to a total value of £15.7m (as of July 5) and have reopened applications to our Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund in order to help more small businesses in the borough.’