More Central Bedfordshire businesses can access grants to help them through Covid crisis

Companies encouraged to apply for funding as soon as possible to avoid missing out

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 12:31 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th March 2021, 12:32 pm

More businesses struggling due to pandemic will be able to access further grant funding from today (Thursday) as Central Bedfordshire Council launches its latest Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG3) scheme.

Having reviewed its ARG policy, the council has made more changes to enable additional businesses to apply for grants. The changes include:

> Removing Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) recipients and company directors receiving furlough from the list of ineligible applicants. Now, applicants who receive SEISS, or company directors who have received furlough payments, can receive £2,000 if they meet the qualifying criteria.

Central Beds Council

> ‘Topping-up’ payments to all successful ARG1 applicants. All applicants that received an ARG payment in round 1 of the council's ARG scheme will receive the same payment as they did from ARG1, except those that do not operate from a rated premises. Businesses that do not operate from a rated premises will receive a payment of £2,000 rather than the £4,000 they received in ARG1. These applicants do not need to reapply for a ‘top-up’ payment as CBC will contact all eligible businesses to confirm that they are still trading before any payments are issued.

Councillor David Shelvey, Executive Member Corporate Resources, said: “To date, we have successfully administered at least £94m in financial support for local businesses in the form of grants and rate relief, and this will continue to rise over the coming months.

“We set a wide scope for ARG2 to support as many businesses as possible, and through ARG3 we are now able to offer more support than initially anticipated. The ARG was always intended to be an iterative process so that we could ensure the money was distributed as widely as possible and supported as many businesses as possible.

“All applications to ARG3 will be processed in order of when they are received, and we encourage businesses to apply for ARG3 as soon as possible to avoid missing out.”

Businesses can apply for the ARG3 scheme via the Council’s website from March 25 until April 22.

In recent weeks, CBC’s Independent Group has claimed the council's amendments to its various Covid grants schemes amounted to backtracking due to pressure from its councillors and local businesses. They had also called for the removal of the SEISS restriction.

Cllr Gareth Mackey described the latest development as "an important u-turn". He said: "Over the last few months many of you have been closely following the saga of battles around the ARG schemes administered by CBC. Over time the schemes were heavily criticised for being far too narrow in scope (ARG 1) and then for excessively restrictive application criteria.

"This is a significant change and one that can’t come too soon for those this have been facing a desperate fight to stay in business until they can reopen in line with Covid restrictions relaxing. I have been privileged to share a virtual platform with Support for Hair & Beauty - Bedfordshire and Excluded UK in meetings, in print, on the radio and on TV. I am incredibly pleased that there is now a glimmer of hope.

"I can’t help feel that a considerable amount of anxiety, upset and mental torture could have been avoided by listening to common sense in the first instance. However, I also thank the Portfolio Holder and Aministration for seeing sense here. The important thing is that the change has come and can hopefully help those in desperate need."