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Call to keep business support grant funding in Cornwall

As the deadline looms for businesses to claim emergency coronavirus funding, Cornwall’s business community is calling on the Government to support those who have been ineligible for grant support. 

Eligible businesses have until Friday August 28 to apply for a business support grant – after that date, the Council will be required to return any unclaimed money to the Treasury. 

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Business leaders argue that as this money was allocated to Cornwall, the Council should be allowed to use it to support around 3,000 local micro businesses which have so far been ineligible for any Government coronavirus grant. 

Cornwall was allocated £269m for the original business support grant, with a further £13.5m for the discretionary grant support fund. However, in awarding funding for the discretionary grant scheme, the Government asked local authorities to prioritise businesses in particular groups, leaving thousands unable to be assisted.

Some 22,000 Cornish businesses so far have received more than £249m in either business support or discretionary grant funding. This leaves around £33m in unclaimed funds which could be returned to the Government.

Kim Conchie, CEO of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, said: “Businesses in Cornwall were initially impressed with the speed at which Government stepped into help, in the unprecedented circumstances we have experienced this year. Equally it seems ridiculous from a business perspective that money allocated to the micro-businesses and sole traders here cannot be used for the purposes for which it was intended. In order to give us any chance of recovery over the coming winter months, we need this finance approved and allocated with the same alacrity as the original grants.”

Ann Vandermeulen, Development Manager for FSB Cornwall, said: “There is clear evidence of the level of need across Cornwall and it is frustrating that this money will have to be returned to central Government when businesses here could make much better use of it to benefit themselves and our local economy.

"Limits placed on the discretionary scheme meant many businesses lost out on lifeline funding and we stand with our business colleagues and Cornwall Council in urging government to allow us to use this money to support those in need."

Tim Dwelly, Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for economy, culture and planning, said: “We have made the case to Government several times to demonstrate the impact on our micro businesses and the long-lasting damage which will be caused to otherwise thriving businesses. 

“This money was allocated to Cornwall and should remain in Cornwall to support those businesses which are experiencing exceptional hardship.”