January 25, 2023 1.00 pm This story is over 15 months old

Nearly £2m Covid support for Lincoln businesses went unclaimed

The funding came too late for some

Nearly £2 million of Covid grants for Lincoln businesses were unclaimed due to lack of demand.

Delays meant that businesses had either gone bust or succeeded by the time they were available, councillors have been told.

Only £852,000 of Lincoln’s £2.7 million Covid Additional Relief fund was given out.

It was originally announced in March 2021 to support businesses who had suffered during the pandemic lockdowns.

However, City of Lincoln Council say they struggled to give the money away, even after widening the criteria.

A meeting of the Community Leadership Scrutiny Committee heard that barely a quarter of the allocated funding was given to businesses.

“By the time that we had guidance on how it should be given out, we struggled to give it away,” Martin Walmsley, Head of Shared Revenues and Benefits said.

“Companies had either thrived during the pandemic or gone out of business.”

The council struggled to find businesses who were eligible | Photo Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Companies had to demonstrate a fall in turnover of at least 30% to be eligible for the funding.

Even after this was dropped to 20%, not many businesses came forward.

Some businesses may have also accepted other sources of government funding during the pandemic, which meant they weren’t allowed to take more.

The national CAR fund from the government was £1.5 billion, although it’s unclear how much was ultimately claimed.

The city council meeting heard questions about whether similar grants would be required to help businesses weather the cost of living crisis.

Councillor Naomi Tweedle said: “Hospitality businesses have been hit by a double whammy. I spoke to one whose energy bills have gone up from £30,000 to £70,000 – and less customers are coming through the door as people cut back.

“Most haven’t put their prices up to reflect the pressure they’re under.”

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