Kirklees Council reveals how much it has paid out in business support grants since November

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Businesses in Kirklees that were required to shut as part of lockdown regulations have had more than £22m in government aid.

The cash, administered by Kirklees Council, came from the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) established by the government last November.

The authority is now looking at the roll-out of the Additional Restrictions Grant scheme (ARG), which supports self-employed residents or other home-based businesses that have not been able to secure government financial support.

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Almost £13m has been allocated to the council and it has received more than 700 applications - of which 197 have been approved - since its launch in early December. The funding is available up until the end of March 2022.

Batley town centreBatley town centre
Batley town centre

The LRSG is split into three elements.

Closed applies to all businesses mandated to close by government, which are registered to pay business rates and were in operation during the November lockdown, the move to Tier 3 in December 2020 and the current lockdown. Grants range from £1,334 up to £3,000 per 28-day period, dependent on rateable value, and are paid on an ongoing basis.

Sector was set up specifically to cover nightclubs and sexual entertainment venues that government required to close in March and that have never reopened; the grant covered a period in November but has now been subsumed within the LRSG (Closed) scheme.

Open provided grants to hospitality, accommodation and leisure businesses that were significantly impacted by local and then Tier 2 restrictions in place from August 5 to November 5, and subsequently for businesses that were impacted but remained open during the following period that Kirklees was in Tier 3.

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Christmas Support Payment: a one-off payment for wet-led pubs that predominantly serve alcohol rather than provide food and which were severely impacted by Covid-19 restrictions, with eligible businesses receiving a grant of £1,000.

On January 5 in response to national lockdown 3.0 the government announced a one-off additional payment of up to £9,000 for rate-paying businesses that have been required to close, and allocated further funding for the ARG scheme to support businesses through the current lockdown period.

As of January 19 Kirklees Council had received 3,061 applications for support across all of the grant schemes and had made payments totalling £22.4m.

Last week the council was criticised for its slowness in paying out support cash as some businesses applying for government grants during the coronavirus pandemic were said to be struggling through a “limbo” period between cash being approved and the money landing in their accounts.

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In response senior councillor Graham Turner (Lab, Denby Dale) said extra checks were being requested by government following "fraudulent activity" elsewhere in the country.

He accepted that some payments had not been made as quickly as the council would have liked.

Speaking at a meeting of the Economy and Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Panel Chris Duffill, the council's head of business and skills, said staff were working to clear a backlog of applications within a three-week timeframe.

He added: "We have had some that we have had to reject because businesses have not been able to demonstrate the real impact of the virus on their turnover."

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Coun John Taylor (Con, Kirkburton) raised the issue of musicians who had been "directly affected" by live venue closures during the pandemic and asked whether anything could be done for that sector.

Mr Duffill recognised what he called "the wider national problem" and said he and colleagues were looking at the freelance sector and what can be done to provide support.

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