Falmouth: Cornwall Council criticised for delay in sending out new covid grants to help businesses

  Posted: 13.01.22 at 18:43 by Richard Whitehouse - Local Democracy Reporter

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Cornwall Council has been accused of “dragging its heels” in distributing grants to businesses impacted by Cornwall and not doing enough to prevent holiday let owners from claiming the cash.

The Government has provided money to local authorities to give to businesses in the hospitality, leisure, and accommodation sectors.

However, Tim Dwelly, independent councillor for Penzance East, said that the Conservative administration at County Hall had not sent this money out to businesses in need.

“We understand that the mandatory grants, that are worth around £40million in Cornwall, have been provided to send to businesses since Christmas, many councils have already put them out to businesses, but in Cornwall we are still waiting.

“What on earth are the Conservatives playing at, sitting on this money when it is needed by businesses – there is no good explanation for the delay.

“These are mandatory grants, not discretionary grants so there is no reason to delay them. These grants are meant to reach businesses by the end of February – why the delay? Why do the Conservatives think that businesses are happy to wait weeks on end?”

On the Cornwall Council website an update posted on January 12 apologised for the delay in opening up the application process for the grants.

It states: “Cornwall Council is aware of the announcement made by the Chancellor recently regarding additional support for businesses in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sector.

“We apologise for the delay in opening up applications for the omicron hospitality and leisure grant. We hope to have the issue resolved by the end of this week. Please be assured once we receive applications we will be in contact with all potentially eligible businesses and will make payments as quickly as possible thereafter.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked council deputy leader David Harris to respond to Cllr Dwelly’s comments but he said he was not able to do so.

Cllr Dwelly has also criticised the council for not lobbying the government more to prevent the grants from going to owners of holiday let businesses and, particularly, those who live outside Cornwall.

He said: “The Conservatives have clearly failed dismally to make the case to Government that people who own holiday lets in Cornwall should not be getting millions of pounds in covid grants which are designed to help businesses impacted by the pandemic.

“Here we go again, the Government sending £30m of funds out to people who own holiday lets who haven’t had to close their premises or lose business.

“This is a shocking amount of money which could be used by businesses who have been worst hit by the omicron variant – restaurants, barss and leisure services which have seen the number of people dropping as a result.

“Some of that £30m will go to local businesses but a lot of it will be going to people who have properties in Cornwall but haven’t lost business.”

Cllr Dwelly added: “The money will go to people who own holiday lets or second home owners who pretend their properties are holiday lets. These people do not need this money.

“It is another example of the Conservatives being anti-business or not thinking in the best interests of local businesses.”

The independent councillor, who was a Cabinet member under the previous administration, also highlighted that many holiday let owners do not live in Cornwall.

He added: “That £40m should be all for Cornish businesses and those affected most by omicron and covid.

“When we were running the council we got that money out as soon as possible to businesses.”

Cllr Harris declined to comment on Cllr Dwelly’s claims.

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