The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called on local councils in England to distribute an estimated £1.5bn in unspent small business grants.
According to FSB research, English councils have already distributed 92 per of the money which has been earmarked for the discretionary grant fund or the small business grants fund.
However, only seven per cent of all councils have issued 100 per cent of these funds, leaving approximately £1.5bn unspent.
As the coronavirus crisis continues, the FSB has highlighted the urgency in getting this money to struggling businesses, pointing out that small firms rely on their local councils to distribute the money in a fast and timely manner.
“Every local authority will know that long before this crisis struck, small firms were already facing huge difficulties with major chains leaving high streets, rising business rates and soaring employment costs,” said the FSB’s national chair Mike Cherry.
“This is why councils simply cannot afford to delay in getting these funds out to businesses. Many councils have already handed out more than 90 per cent of their small business grants which is good to see, but that means that more money remains which needs to be handed out.”
Cherry also encouraged any small businesses which have not yet signed up for the grant schemes to do so before the September deadline, and he asked the government to create a discretionary fund to be relaunched to help support those businesses which have missed out on funding to date.
“Back in May, a discretionary fund was set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of other grants, such as limited company directors and those in the supply chains of the leisure and retail sectors,” Cherry added.
“Now is the time for this five per cent discretionary fund to be repeated.
“We want to see this £617m fund issued to councils so that they can help small businesses that may have missed out on initial funding or may not qualify for other grants. This will go some way to helping councils safeguard the future of the local businesses and communities.
“For small businesses, councils and government, now is not the time to delay. With some sectors still struggling to reopen, lock lockdowns curtailing efforts by firms to get back to business and the spectre of a potential second wave of the virus, we must, we must act now and take the necessary steps needed to prop up small firms who are the backbone of the economy.”