Businesses face ‘financial ruin’ as they wait for ‘vital’ support

PUBLISHED: 06:55 07 May 2020

Businesses say they feel ‘abandoned’ as they have not been able to access the vital financial support promised by the government.

Businesses say they feel ‘abandoned’ as they have not been able to access the vital financial support promised by the government.

PA Wire/PA Images

More than a thousand businesses have not received cash as part of a scheme to help them stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses say they feel ‘abandoned’ as they have not been able to access the vital financial support promised by the government.

Despite the best efforts of North Somerset Council – which has helped 65 per cent of the 3,466 qualifying properties, compared to the national average which stands at 50 per cent – firms are still waiting for the lifeline.

Publican Simon Blaker told the Mercury he would be ‘facing financial ruin’ without the cash.

He said: “Despite having completed the form provided by the council, many of us are still yet to receive any communication or confirmation regarding the payment, let alone receive the money which is there to help us survive.

“The small businesses of North Somerset that account for so many local employment opportunities and taxes paid have been abandoned with no line of clear communication as to when we’ll be receiving this fantastic support shown by the government.

“Publicans are still being charged rent, despite being closed by the government, as well as the energy providers and other associated costs.

“As it stands the local hospitality small businesses are on the brink of extinction without this assistance. I, amongst others, are facing financial ruin without this assistance.”

Firms in the area have received £27million so far, from an allocated pot of £40.4 million.

As the Mercury went to press, 1,209 business properties flagged as qualifying for help had not yet received the funds.

A council spokesman said: “As soon as we got the initial government guidance we sent letters to businesses asking them to contact the council with their bank account details if they wanted a grant payment. These items of correspondence have now nearly been cleared.

“We were disappointed that the guidance was changed meaning businesses had ‘to apply’ for the grants but we knew that time was of the essence for our businesses. So we responded immediately by sending a second letter advising them to apply through the link on our website.

“On April 23 we sent a third reminder to all outstanding business, again directing them to the website link and the electronic application process. As of April 29, we have 145 standard applications with the oldest dated April 27 and 131 complex applications dating back to the April 14 outstanding.

“We have settled 2,257 claims and paid out almost £27 million. We urge businesses go to www.n-somerset.gov.uk/together to check what support is available.”


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