Around £1.5 billion of emergency coronavirus funding for small businesses in the UK has been left unclaimed, according to the latest figures.
The Federation for Small Businesses is urging firms in England to sign up for small business grants by the end of the month, otherwise the unspent money will be returned to the Treasury.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak promised over £12 billion to help support firms throughout the crisis on 17 March, with sums of £10,000 available through the Small Business Fund and £25,000 through the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant fund.
According to official data released 3 August, almost 900,000 businesses received support that has cost the government £10.8 billion so far. However the figures reveal that over 76,000 businesses are still eligible to claim the £1.5 billion left over.
The Federation for Small Businesses (FSB) is calling on local authorities to immediately issue these funds to eligible businesses and is asking the Treasury to issue another £617 million to those who were left out.
The FSB Chair Mike Cherry said, “Small businesses have been through what for many has been and will be the most difficult period they have ever faced, and while things are slowly starting to improve, we’re not out of the woods yet.
“That is why we are making this call today for small firms to apply as soon as possible so that they don’t miss out on grant funding that could prevent a business from going under.“But to access these funds, small firms rely on their local councils to distribute the money in a fast and timely manner.”
He added that many councils have already handed out more than 90 percent of their Small Business Grants, but that means more money still needs to be distributed.
According to the BBC, an official for the Local Government Association (LGA) said, "Shutting the discretionary scheme would be a mistake by the government at this time. Councils need more time and flexibility to ensure as many businesses can benefit from this funding.
"The government also needs to commit to redistributing any unspent resources from the original schemes, including any clawed back, to councils to be spent on local efforts to help further support businesses and reboot local economies."