York businesses say delays in grant payouts are ‘causing chaos’

Chancellor Rishi Sunak authorised the grants. Photograph: Pippa Fowles/ Crown Copyright/ 10 Downing Street/ PA Wire

Businesses have hit out over delays to the government’s coronavirus support grants being handed out by City of York Council – after the local authority said only £4 million of the £48 million has been paid out.

Business owners have been in touch to say they have still not seen the money – more than a week after Government handed it out to every local authority in the country.

One small business owner said the hold-up is “causing chaos” and that they are worried about paying staff, bills and living expenses.

A spokesperson for the council said on that about £1.2 million had been paid out on Tuesday morning. By Wednesday they said £4m had been paid – and 2,700 applications received.

‘Pressure is horrendous’

Phil Pinder, chair of the York Retail Forum

East Riding of Yorkshire Council paid out more than £19 million of business grants on April 2 – with a spokesperson saying they expect to process 7,000 applications.

Bradford Council paid out £20 million in small business grants on April 1 – the same day the money from Government was paid to local authorities.

Ray Neal, from Sunshine tanning and beauty salon in York, said:

  • The amount of time that it is taking for the grants to be issued to small businesses is causing chaos.

    Whilst the news was received that the Government would be paying the grants as soon as possible two weeks ago, in reality despite the applications being on the council website last Tuesday, the actual funds are yet to be released.

    Small business have commitments not only to their staff, which are priorities, but also suppliers, utilities and lastly for their own living basics, such as food.

    The amount of pressure that small business owners are all suffering is horrendous.

Another York business manager, who asked not to be named, praised Cllr Andrew Waller for speaking to businesses throughout the crisis, but said: “Why are other councils paying the money out already?

“There are going to be businesses that can’t manage without this money and those companies will be gone.

“There are also possibly people going to work because they need the money – when they could be staying at home and that’s the whole point of the funding.”

Phil Pinder, chair of York Retail Forum, said: “It’s a shame it is taking so long in York, I was told they were being handed out from Monday, although I don’t know any business yet to have received them.”

Team working through Easter

A spokesperson for the council said anti-fraud checks will take longer for businesses without existing accounts with the local authority.

And that the grants are being handed out as quickly and securely as possible – and the team will be working through the bank holiday weekend.

The government announced £22 billion funding for small businesses to help them through the coronavirus crisis – with companies set to receive grants of either £10,000 or £25,000.

A government statement said every council received the money on April 1 to support local businesses.

The council has given more than 4,000 York companies the business rates holiday announced by government.

And in a statement last week the local authority said a new secure system has been created to process the government business support grants. Visit york.gov.uk/BusinessSupport to apply.