Councils in the NE accused of withholding emergency COVID-19 funding

Alice Holmes reports on North East's councils allegedly withholding funds for local small businesses.

Alice Holmes
22nd March 2021
Image: Wikipedia
Councils in the North East have been accused of withholding emergency COVID-19 support from businesses. 

These businesses range from driving instructors and cleaners to dog groomers and artists. This makes up an estimated three million people nationwide, all of whom are not eligible for COVID-19 funding, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service. 

Rachel Douglas, who runs The Laundry Lodge in Northumberland, spoke out about this issue, saying: “if you don’t pay rent for bricks and mortar, then you aren’t eligible”. 

Many of those who have been affected by this have joined the 'LA7 Excluded' campaign in an attempt to urge the region’s councils to change their policy on allocating almost £40milion of government Additional Restrictions Grant money.

Taxpayers’ money is being unfairly and deliberately withheld from businesses, some of whom are struggling financially and may never recover

Anonymous Campaigner

Additionally, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy only handed out £5million of that figure by mid-January. Northumberland County Council awarded only 5.6% of its cash. 

Campaigners have argued that “taxpayers’ money is being unfairly and deliberately withheld from businesses, some of whom are struggling financially and may never recover.” 

In response to this, the seven council’s finance directors have said: “We feel that we have targeted the limited resources available to us appropriately and regret that we cannot support every business in need.”

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