Business leaders across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are backing calls for more grant support from Government after the latest round of funding for pandemic-hit local businesses was over-subscribed by £14.5 million.
The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership has joined with Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, Cornwall Manufacturers Group, Visit Cornwall, Cornwall Marine Network, Cornwall Business Improvement Districts and the Islands’ Partnership on Scilly to send a joint letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak asking for more urgent support.
The letter says: “Whilst we have put successive rounds of Covid-19 funding to good use it is clear that, based on demonstrable demand, we need additional discretionary funding to ensure a strong recovery of our economy, secure jobs and prevent businesses from closing.”
The business leaders argue that the latest round of discretionary funding awarded to Cornwall and Scilly does not reflect the area’s higher prevalence of businesses that fall outside mandatory grant schemes, nor the importance of the tourism industry, which has been very badly hit.
And they say there are parts of the UK which have not used their full allocation of discretionary funding, so the Chancellor would not have to find new money.
Mark Duddridge, chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Thousands of local businesses are facing a cashflow crisis as a result of the pandemic and can’t get support because our allocation of discretionary funding doesn’t match the need. Meanwhile we know that nationally there is discretionary funding sitting dormant in bank accounts and under-used.
“We’re urging the Chancellor to use that money provide a lifeline to see our businesses through these dark days and into recovery. And we’ve told him that with his support we can ensure Cornwall and Scilly are a model of how England can build back better after coronavirus.”
The letter calls for an additional £20.3 million in discretionary grant funding to cover current and future demand if lockdown endures, an extension of the VAT reduction, deferral of tax payments and loan repayments, more flexibility on business rates, and an extension of the furlough scheme beyond April 2021.
Cornwall Council, which administers discretionary grants on behalf of Government, is warning that without extra money it will only be able to pay businesses around half of what they have asked for.