Business

Up to 3,000 small firms must complete additional application for £10,000 emergency grant

Ryan McAleer

UP to 3,000 small businesses applying for a £10,000 emergency Government coronavirus grant will have to complete another new application process it has emerged.

A new online portal is earmarked to go live by the end of this week, more than a month after Economy Minister Diane Dodds first announced the launch of the cash scheme.

An estimated 27,000 small businesses, operating in premises with a rateable value below £15,000 are believed to be eligible for the £10,000 grant.

Another 1,400 payments were issued yesterday, bringing the overall total to 18,500, or £185m since the scheme opened on March 26.

Land and Property Services (LPS) said its officials are currently vetting another 1,600 applications.

But some of the smallest firms are facing additional obstacles in obtaining the money.

According to LPS, there are up to 3,000 properties where the rates may be paid by the landlord or owner rather than the business. It’s understood this relates to premises with a rateable value below £1,590.

LPS has told these applicants that extra vetting is now needed to ensure the money is going to the business in the property and not the landlord or letting agent who receives the rate bill.

“A separate web portal will be launched by the end of this week to capture the extra information needed to ensure grants go to the businesses rather than the landlords. We will pay the grants to these businesses as soon as this information is received," said an LPS spokesperson.

Enniskillen-based financial advisor Darren McDermott is one of the businesses who has been told he must provide new information through the portal.

“As a small business I applied online for the £10,000 grant on the first day, which is almost five weeks ago.

“I work in an enterprise centre with 25 businesses, 15 have been paid and 10 have not.”

Mr McDermott said he struggled to obtain information on his application for a month, before being informed about the new portal on Friday.

“You would have thought that they would have posted this on their website to reassure people like me that we will be paid,” he said.

“We now need to fill in another form and wait further, so it could be weeks longer until we receive the funds.”

Meanwhile LPS said yesterday that it believes around 3,000 businesses which are potentially eligible for the grant, have still not applied.

Businesses are being encouraged to sign up before the deadline on May 20.

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