Small businesses say they face going bust over delays in vital support grants from Havant Borough Council
SOME small business owners have hit out at Havant Borough Council for failing to process grants provided by central government and claim they are only weeks from going bust if the money doesn’t arrive soon.
They have also criticised a council employee for posting messages on social media claiming they’d received grant.
The Small Business Grant Fund provides businesses with a £10,000 payment to help companies survive during the coronavirus pandemic. Enterprises eligible to Small Business Rates Relief are eligible for the grant.
However, with the government’s website stating that money for the grant will be with council’s ‘on or around April 1st’, many small business owners are angry they’ve not yet received payment.
Dr Philippa Oakley, who owns the Acorn Health chiropractic care clinic in Emsworth, said: ‘I applied for the grant on April 1 and it said it would be processed in 10 working days and I still haven’t received the money. I’ve already had to make two members of staff redundant which I wouldn’t have had to do if I had received the money in the stipulated time.
‘Without this money I have about three weeks I can survive paying the bills before we would go under.’
Another business owner from Waterlooville, who asked not to be named, said: ‘All the business owners I know in Havant and Waterlooville and Hayling Island have not yet been paid. We are currently running off last year’s profits but this money is essential if we are to survive. I’m now hearing April 30 before I get the money.’
Both owners are angered by the delay and claim business owners they know in other areas have already been paid.
A recent government document published on April 20 showed Havant Borough Council had paid the grant to 242 businesses out of 1,383 identified as potentially eligible. The same document showed Portsmouth City Council had paid 1654 out of a potential 3318 businesses.
The council has said it has now paid out grants to ‘70 per cent of those who have told us they need our help’.
This does not include businesses who may be unaware of the support on offer and have not yet applied.
Deputy leader, Cllr Tim Pike, said: We are doing everything we can to get the rest of the funds out as quickly as possible as we know this is a lifeline for our businesses. We are confident that all eligible businesses who have submitted their details will have received the money by the end of April.
‘In a minority of cases there will be queries and these will take longer to resolve - but we are working extremely hard to get all of these sorted as quickly as possible.’
Business owners have been angered by a social media post from the council’s business support supervisor, Jacky Clark, who posted: ‘Our small business has received the business support grant. Thank you.’
One poster replied: ‘You seem to be the only one who’s received the grant so far.’
A council statement said: ‘There has been unequivocally no favouritism whatsoever in this process.’