Whilst we know many are getting back to some kind of normal and looking to re-open and re-start their social enterprises, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that there remains *£1.68bn grant funding (£183m in the West Midlands) that could go back to central government if we do not make representations to ensure it is re-purposed to support the social enterprise sector.
Back in March, the Chancellor announced over £12bn in Rate Relief funding which would be allocated to local authorities. The local authorities would then pay these grants to businesses in rate-able premises, and dependent on the particulate business, the grants would be £10,000 or 25,000. It has been reported that some organisations have done quite well out of these measures, but the social enterprise sector has mainly fell through the cracks and not been eligible for these grants.
The Voluntary and Social Enterprise sectors campaigned for weeks, as many of them “fell through the cracks” and would not see any of this grant money, whilst profitable business would. To this end, after weeks of campaigning, the Chancellor announced £750m for the charitable sector (including social enterprises) and added 5% to the initial rate relief grant pot in “discretionary grants”. This announcement was welcomed, although it didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that these new measures were very small when considering there are around 180,000 charities, over 20,000 CICs and numerous Community Benefit Societies who make up the VCSE sector, not to mention the many small trusts, associations and exempt charities.
The original rate relief grant money was to recognize significant loss of income during lock-down and support business with cash flow, yet the new funding came with a need to either be working directly on Covid-19 or some other criteria to be determined at a local authority level, meaning that many, once again, “fell through the cracks” of these additional funds too
THERE IS NEARLY £1.7bn REMAINING.
We’re really pleased that the majority (£10.65bn), of the £12bn, has now reached the various businesses and we’re not complaining about that, but there remain many (particularly in our sector) who have received nothing whatsoever and may never re-open. To see that there is still £1.7bn, of the initial allocation is unspent, and therefore likely to go back to central government is something of a kick in the teeth to our sector.
We understand that “not every business can be saved”, but a whole sector? A sector that pumps its money into social aims, mainly in the most deprived areas to be ignored, is deeply worrying and needs to continue to be highlighted. To this end we’ve written to various people in power to try to ensure that this money remains in the local regions to support the recovery. We’re grateful to: Cllr Courts, Solihull; Saqib Bhati, MP Meriden; and Andy Street, WM Mayor, for responding to our emails and we’re pleased to have their support to “do everything they can” and “make representations to central government”.
Do we have your support? If so please write to your MP, blog, write to your council leaders etc. to help us keep the “initial allocation” allocated and used to support social enterprises who have so far fell through the cracks.
*Correct at 28/06/2020.