BURY North MP James Daly has called on Bury Council to support local businesses by distributing around £4.89m in Government funding.
The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG ) was devised by the Chancellor as a discretionary scheme, allowing councils to use their knowledge of the local economy to provide tailored financial assistance for self employed workers, sole traders and other businesses.
Since December of last year, the council has received a total of £5.738m from Government, but according to Mr Daly, as of February 26, only £848,000 had been distributed to 361 separate businesses.
Mr Daly said: “With the Prime Minister’s announcement of the road map out of
restrictions we must take immediate action locally to support as many traders as possible within Bury, Ramsbottom and Tottington. This money needs to be paid out now to ensure every business has the best chance of surviving lockdown and is able to thrive going forward.
“We must ensure that priority is given based on need and to those who have not received a grant previously. This opportunity must not be wasted as our local businesses need financial help now, not in a few weeks or months. This support will protect jobs and important sectors of the local economy.
“There is no justification for millions of pounds to remain in Bury Council’s bank account and I hope there will be no further delay in these monies being distributed.”
Bury Council has responded by saying its approach goes deeper than simply distributing the funds and will be based on evidence from the business community.
A council spokesman said: “We have been working hard to deliver all of the different local restrictions grants quickly to businesses who need them.
“We have paid out £18.7m of the Government’s allocation for supporting businesses throughout the restrictions, with further grants being made at pace all the time.
“In some circumstances, we have been restricted by the Government’s criteria on businesses that are eligible for the grants. Nevertheless, where possible, we have adapted the criteria for discretionary grants to respond to our own local circumstances and business needs, with a focus on ongoing support that will see them through crisis and into recovery.”
The ARG provides local councils with grant funding to support closed businesses that do not directly pay business rates as well as businesses that do not have to close but which are impacted.
Local councils have the freedom to determine the eligibility criteria for these grants.