Kirklees businesses stuck in “limbo” when grant aid is approved but then delayed

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Some Kirklees businesses applying for government grants during the coronavirus pandemic are struggling through a “limbo” period between cash being approved and the money landing in their accounts.

The grants – described as “a lifeline” for many businesses, and particularly those within the hospitality sector – are administered by Kirklees Council.

The slow delivery of some grants was highlighted by Councillor Anthony Smith, a Liberal Democrat councillor for Lindley.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He revealed some businesses in his ward had experienced delays due to the council carrying additional checks and requiring supporting evidence.

Dewsbury town centreDewsbury town centre
Dewsbury town centre

And he said some had found it “almost impossible” to get updates from the council’s team and turned to local councillors to try and make progress with claims “out of sheer desperation”.

Speaking at a virtual meeting of full council Coun Smith sought clarity over whether extra checks had been mandated by the council or by central government.

Senior councillor Graham Turner (Lab, Denby Dale) accepted that some payments had not been made as quickly as the council would have liked but that all information being requested was required by government.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said: “Some of these early grants had very little information that was required but as procedures have gone on and different grants have been instigated by government the information [needed] has grown.

“That’s because of some of the fraudulent activity that’s been committed across the country.

“So that information is sometimes required and sometimes we have to go back to people when they don’t quite provide the additional information.”

Coun Turner said that since November 24 the council had averaged 134 payments a day totalling more than £10.5m.

He added: “We are doing all we absolutely can.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Speaking after the meeting Coun Smith acknowledged the work of staff in processing grants but said communications needed to be improved.

He said several businesses in his ward had expressed frustration at not receiving responses to emails or phone calls.

He added: “One particular business received an email from the Business Grants team to say their application had been approved and ‘would definitely be paid next week’.

“The business made commitments to suppliers on the back of this, only to find the money was not forthcoming and they were subsequently unable to elicit a response from anyone to find out the reason for the delay or indeed if the decision on the grant was still ‘approval’.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The additional stress caused to business owners, already facing the most difficult trading circumstances in living memory, by a communication black-out cannot be understated.

Last April the council was criticised for being slow to act on making Covid-19 emergency business support payments to businesses who were relying on the cash to get through the health emergency

As of April 17 it had made 2,360 individual payments totalling £26.15m from a total funding allocation of £113, 650,000.

However after re-deploying and training staff to distribute the grant aid that figure jumped by more than £30m in a week to £57m, which went to more than 5,000 businesses.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.