On Thursday 25 March, Sir David Amess spoke in Business Questions and asked for a debate on the way in which discretionary grants are distributed to businesses by local authorities.
Sir David Amess said:
On the eve of the launch of the Dame Vera Lynn memorial fund appeal, will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on the distribution of discretionary grants to businesses by local authorities during the coronavirus pandemic? I have had a number of local companies, including sole traders, complaining about delays in receiving funds, the interpretation of eligibility by my local authority and no commonality with other councils. Surely with the Government giving the money to local authorities to distribute, it is their duty to make sure that it reaches businesses that need the support as soon as possible. I do wish everyone a very happy Easter.
Jacob Rees-Mogg replied:
The Government have introduced an unprecedented package of support for businesses throughout the pandemic and are working closely with local authorities to ensure that funding can get to the right places as quickly as is practicable. The additional restrictions grant continues to enable local authorities to put in place discretionary business support. Local authorities are free to provide support that suits their local area, including support for those businesses that are not required to close but whose trade has been severely affected by restrictions, and those businesses that fall outside the business rates system, such as market traders. But it is a discretionary system and if we believe in local accountability and local decision making, sometimes we have to accept that the local decisions will not be the decisions that we ourselves would have made.