Fund applications top 2,000

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Cornwall Council is calling on the Government to make more funds available to help support businesses across Cornwall cope in the wake of the coronavirus shutdown.

It comes after the Council received 2,124 applications for a grant from the Government’s discretionary business support fund, and a further 2,341 expressions of interest from businesses unable to access any source of Government funding.

While the discretionary fund has now closed to new applications, businesses have until Wednesday June 17 to submit an expression of interest.

So far, payments totalling almost £4 million have been paid out and the Council is working hard to process applications as quickly as possible. It is expected that the remaining eligible businesses will be paid within the next fortnight. But with the Government allocation capped at £13.5 million, it is clear there is more demand than money available.

Tim Dwelly, Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for culture, economy and planning, said; “Together with business leaders across Cornwall, we continue to lobby the Government for more funding to support both those businesses which are eligible for discretionary fund, as well as those unable to access any other form of Government support.

“The funding from Government is based on a percentage of the money allocated to Cornwall for the original business support scheme – this is an arbitrary figure and does not reflect the high proportion of small and micro businesses which, under normal circumstances, are successful enterprises.

“Many are suffering severe hardship as a result of not being able to access any sort of grant funding, with the threat of bankruptcy or having to cease trading hanging over their heads.”

Ann Vandermeulen, FSB Cornwall development manager, said; “We can’t thank the staff at Cornwall Council enough for their ongoing hard work in administering this scheme and the desire of the Council to help all of the businesses that they can.

“Although labelled discretionary, they are limited by Government criteria and the amount of money centrally allocated. This is hugely frustrating when then Council have been diligent enough to create a means to clearly evidence that the need is so much greater. Businesses, of all types, need this lifeline to cover costs while they cannot trade otherwise many will close their doors for want of, what is a comparatively small, intervention.

“We stand with the Council and key stakeholders in lobbying government to increase the funds that they can support businesses with and will ourselves be urging government that a positive decision must be made very quickly.”