LCCI urge delay to grant fund closure

Friday 7 August 2020

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry has today written to the Government, calling for the closure of a coronavirus support fund for businesses to be delayed by a month.

The Government’s Discretionary Grant Fund (DGF) was announced in May to help support micro and small businesses who were in financial hardship due to Covid-19 and were unable to access funding from other grants funds (such as small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces, or regular market traders).

The Government has written to councils, who administer the funds for their local area, to instruct that discretionary funds across the country (along with the Small Business Grant Fund / Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund) must close by Friday, 28 August 2020, and once the final payments have been made on all schemes it will be necessary for local authorities to return any unspent funds to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. 

Writing to Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, in response to this news, LCCI CEO Richard Burge calls for the Government to extend the closure of the scheme until Wednesday 30 September. He says: “the DGF is by its nature not as lean as the other two grant schemes.  Each application requires a significant amount of due diligence.  Furthermore, for the vast majority of businesses this is the first time they have put together an application of this type.  Not every firm gets the right documentation, which adds work to the approval process. For this reason councils must be given further time to process as many applications as possible and ensure the allocated funds can be sent to hard-hit firms.”

The full letter is as follows:

7 August 2020

The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP

House of Commons

Westminster

London

SW1A 0AA

 

Dear Mr Sharma

I am writing to you with regards to the upcoming closure of the Discretionary Grant scheme.

The two grant funds that were launched in April have been processed by local councils at a steady pace.  The latest figures from your department indicate 93% of eligible businesses have received a grant under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure and Small Business Grant Funds.

However, several of the worst affected businesses were excluded from these grant schemes.  London Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomed the third, Discretionary Grant Fund that was launched in June to help support those businesses who were in financial hardship due to Covid-19 issues. 

Businesses have applied to their local authority’s scheme in large numbers.  However, the DGF is by its nature not as lean as the other two grant schemes.  Each application requires a significant amount of due diligence.  Furthermore, for the vast majority of businesses this is the first time they have put together an application of this type.  Not every firm gets the right documentation, which adds work to the approval process. 

For this reason councils must be given further time to process as many applications as possible and ensure the allocated funds can be sent to hard-hit firms.  They will also be able to run additional application windows.  I am asking that you extend the closing date for the Discretionary Grant Fund to 30 September 2020. 

 

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Yours sincerely,

Richard Burge

Chief Executive

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry