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Newport Businesses need ERF Funds NOW!





Welsh Conservatives demand more funding for businesses
after pause of grants.




The Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Economy, Business and Infrastructure, Russell George MS, has reacted with shock that the Welsh Government has paused applications for Business Development Grants “to allow an assessment of applications made against [the] fund value”.

This latest development adds more concern and anxiety for businesses who are struggling to navigate the Welsh Government’s financial packages for businesses due to Covid-19.

Russell George MS had written to the Welsh Government seeking clarity on the different funding schemes having been approached by concerned business owners.

In his letter to the Welsh Government, Russell George MS, states that:

“Upon the launch of the third phase of the Economic Resilience Fund and the Lockdown Business Fund, I am concerned with the level of confusion from businesses and local authorities. I am aware that in some instances, various versions of the guidance have been issued by the Welsh Government to local authorities in a matter of days, and mixed messages have been produced from different Councils on how the fund is to be administered.

“For example, one council is aiming to make automatic payments to those businesses eligible for the Non-Domestic Rate (NDR) grants wherever possible using information obtained during the payment of the last round of Non-Domestic Rate grants, earlier this year. Only businesses that are eligible for the new NDR grant but did not get the previous NDR grant, will need to fill in an application form. On the contrary, another council is saying that they must have an application form from businesses to be eligible to receive the grant.”

Commenting on Russell George MS said:

“I can’t believe the Welsh Government didn’t anticipate that the Business Development Grants would be in such demand when they forced us into a disproportionate Wales-wide lockdown. The Welsh Government needs to re-open the application process and ensure funding meets demand not the other way round, or it will leave businesses wanting.

“This is compounding business concerns if they are not able to apply for the other forms of funding. As we come to the end of the first week in the second Wales-wide lockdown business owners are getting even more anxious, especially not knowing what the restrictions will be after the 9th November, as they try to keep afloat and provide jobs for local people.

“Confusion is also rife in whether or not these schemes are on a first-come, first-serve basis and that every hour that passes the support is dwindling and there won’t be any funding left.

“The Welsh Government needs to urgently clarify what the process is, who can apply and get this information out to local councils and businesses now.”

ENDS

Notes from the editor at Welsh Conservatives – Russell George’s letter is below:

“Upon the launch of the third phase of the Economic Resilience Fund and the Lockdown Business Fund, I am concerned with the level of confusion from businesses and local authorities. I am aware that in some instances, various versions of the guidance have been issued by the Welsh Government to local authorities in a matter of days, and mixed messages have been produced from different Councils on how the fund is to be administered.

“For example, one council is aiming to make automatic payments to those businesses eligible for the Non-Domestic Rate (NDR) grants wherever possible using information obtained during the payment of the last round of Non-Domestic Rate grants, earlier this year. Only businesses that are eligible for the new NDR grant but did not get the previous NDR grant, will need to fill in an application form. On the contrary, another council is saying that they must have an application form from businesses to be eligible to receive the grant.

“Furthermore, given that there is a ring-fenced fund for tourism and hospitality businesses, concern has been expressed that if businesses are in receipt of the NDR grant, they are precluded from applying from the discretionary grant. There is further concern at the suggestion that the fund is limited and on a "first come first served" basis until the fund has been expended, meaning that some businesses will inevitably miss out.

“I would be grateful if you could formally provide clarity to all Members of the Senedd, all local authorities, the business community and the Welsh public of how the Lockdown Business Fund is to be administered at the earliest possible opportunity to resolve this regrettable confusion during what is already an anxious time for businesses across Wales.”

The Newport Conservative Group agree that a fiasco has been caused by the Welsh Labour Government, which is impacting busineeses across the city hard. Many business owners cannot have further delay to receiving vital Economic Resiliance Fund cash - which the UK Government has provided to the Welsh Government for exactly this purpose.

The application process is deliberately designed to fail, with no ability to go back and check previous page submissions, a 7000 word description of what the money is to be used for is required (a mini business plan), a plethora of other information in support of the application, and time limits on each phase of the application form process. Additionally PDF documents appear not to be allowed - meaning jpg or png files only are to be used to provide supporting documents - taking up additional time to create from PDF or Word documents. The whole process is flawed and subject to lengthy delay by administrators.

Business owners across Wales are screaming in frustration and this is ultimately going to severely damage their chances of recovery in our view.

Businesses in Newport need cash in their pocket now!!

 

SIGN THE PETITION:

I am petitioning the Labour Group in the Welsh Government to stop delaying in releasing ERF Funds to Newport businesses!

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