Peterborough businesses start receiving grants - but much remains undistributed
Peterborough City Council has supported more than 1,400 businesses over the last three weeks - but is still the third worst performing public authority in the county.
As of Wednesday April 22, the council has paid over £17million to 1,456 Peterborough small businesses and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, mainly through BACS transfers.
Further payments will continue to be made over the coming days with 90pc of these to be given by end of the month. Businesses who qualify for the grants do not need to do anything; the council will pay the money directly into their accounts through BACS payments.
Peterborough City Council has also awarded 100pc business rate relief for 1,255 retail/hospitality/leisure businesses, totalling £36,255,343.42. There are 31 nurseries eligible for relief of £337,656.
However, data provided by the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce shows that Peterborough is one of three councils in the county that are below the national average of about half – 49.6 per cent – of the funding being allocated.
Figures released on April 20 show East Cambridgeshire District Council had allocated the lowest percentage of its grant money out of all the councils in the county. It had allocated only 39 per cent of the £18.8 million it received, with 806 eligible businesses still going without.
Fenland District Council was the second worst performer, with 42 per cent of funds allocated, and then Peterborough City Council with 44 per cent.
John Bridge OBE DL, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, said: “We are finding that much of the money is still sitting in local authority bank accounts when it is so desperately needed by businesses.
“It is difficult to understand the reasons behind this, and how there is such a significant difference between the local authorities that cover our chamber area.
“It is imperative that the local authorities ensure these funds reach businesses as a matter of urgency. Many of these companies will not survive without these grants, which they are eligible to receive.”
Cambridgeshire City Council had allocated the most, with 66 per cent, but that still leaves 442 eligible businesses going without in its area.
The money is hoped to be a relief for the small business owners are struggling and are desperate for these grants - some of whom we talked to last week.
Peterborough Matters spoke to one independent retailer from the city centre who received his business grant last week. He said: “I received my payment. It was quite frustrating in the beginning because it was being delayed and we weren’t getting any information. I was angry with the council. But I realised they are short of staff and have got a lot of work to do in terms of verification of businesses which takes time. I have received it now and I know of a few more business owners who have also got it. It will be a big help during this challenging time for business owners like me.”
Councillor David Seaton, cabinet member for finance at Peterborough City Council, said: “We are distributing these grants swiftly, however, we are required by government to ensure these payments (of sums of £10,000 and £25,000) are given to those businesses which meet the government criteria.
“Sadly, there has been a minority of people who have attempted to submit fraudulent claims and because of this we have to make sure we are not simply handing over millions of pounds of taxpayer’s cash.”
The grants vary depending on the business activity and size. A £10,000 grant is available for all businesses in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief. A £10,000 grant is also available for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 and below.
A grant of £25,000 is available for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value between £15,001 and below £51,000.
Peterborough businesses can find out more about the grants and other support that is available through the council for businesses in the city online.
Additional reporting by Ben Hatton
Local Democracy Reporting Service