Call to action

There is almost £195m in the West Midlands that needs to be secured from central government to support the recovery of the region’s Social Enterprise Sector.

Last week we posted some analysis of the discretionary grant data that has been published by the Government see post here. This post highlighted that, as of 14/06/2020, there was almost £208m “allocated” funds that remained “unspent” in the region. The figures have now been updated to include payments made up to 22/06/2020, (published 28/06/2020). The current level of “allocated” vs “unspent” is almost £195m. However, it’s not all what it seems, see below.

The Smoke

The data published (correct at 14/06/2020) suggested that there was almost £208m discretionary grant funding left in the West Midlands region, when we compared the “allocations” paid out to the local authorities and the grants actually paid to businesses, this has now (22/06/2020) reduced by £13m to almost £195m.

In our post we wanted to ensure that this money was not sent back to central government and used to support our sector. At that time we believed that it was at our regional council’s discretion to spend these grant funds. To this end we highlighted the “money left” in our region, to raise awareness, and try to ensure the local authorities, and political leaders in the region, recognised how poor the support had been for the sector, and how vital the sector is in the social and economic recovery.

SMBC Response

We have had a response from Cllr Courts, the leader of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.

“The £3.3 million [SMBC allocated unspent at 14/06/2020] that you refer to is the amount by which BEIS overpaid my Council [Solihull] for the original business grants scheme (before the discretionary scheme was announced). We have lobbied extensively about this, and whilst we continue to make representations, unfortunately , current guidance is that this sum must be repaid to government and is not available to be paid out to local organisations.”

The Mirrors

Now, we have no reason to question the accuracy of Cllr Court’s response, but it highlights:

  • that the Government data is very misleading to us and indeed the public.
  • the Chancellor and Government’s continued rhetoric about the amounts of funding provided to support the people and economy is spun to say the least.
  • there is a need to make further representation to our Council’s, regional leaders and MP’s to continue to fight to ensure this “original allocation” and that all funding announced to the public, is secured and spent to support the economy.

Call to Action

Help secure the “allocated funds” to support the region’s recovery.