Exeter City Council has distributed less than half of the government’s coronavirus pandemic business support grant funding to local businesses in the city.
Just over 2,000 Exeter businesses are eligible for either the Small Business Grants Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund which local authorities in England are administering on behalf of the government.
Many businesses with premises that qualify for Small Business Rate Relief can claim a grant payment of up to £10,000 where the rateable value of their premises is £15,000 or less.
In addition retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in receipt of Expanded Retail Discount where the rateable value of their premises is between £15,000 and £51,000 can claim a grant payment of up to £25,000.
As grants are provided for each rateable property, businesses with multiple premises may receive more than one grant, and can claim from more than one local authority.
However government figures released on Monday and updated today reveal that only 45% of 2057 eligible Exeter businesses identified by the council have so far made a claim.
Just over £12 million has so far been paid to 928 businesses, leaving more than half of the £25 million funding pot unclaimed.
This places Exeter in the bottom third of local authorities in terms of the effectiveness of its redistribution of the funds, at 217th of 315.
Torbay Council has so far only distributed just over 25% of the money it was allocated, North Devon Council 23% and Mid Devon District Council, the worst performing in Devon, just 21%, placing all three councils close to the bottom of the national table.
In contrast, Torridge District Council has so far paid grants to over 83% of eligible businesses in its area, placing it in the country’s top ten.
Exeter City Council director Bindu Arjoon said the council was keen to get the money out to businesses.
She said: “We are ready to pay the money to businesses that are struggling and the funds can be paid into their banks within days. All they have to do is respond to the letters or emails that were sent out.”
Exeter City Council began contacting local businesses a fortnight ago to inform them about the funds. Letters have been sent to ratepayers where an email address is not available.