Issues raised over Covid recovery grants in Calderdale
Getting COVID-19 recovery grants out quickly and bidding for pots of money were among issues raised at April’s full meeting of Calderdale Council.
Coun Sophie Whittaker asked Cabinet member for Regeneration and Strategy, Coun Jane Scullion about administration of the Restart Grants available to businesses in fields including leisure, hospitality and personal care from April 1.
She asked why Calderdale was only opening up application to the grants from April 15 when other neighbouring authorities including Kirklees and Leeds had done so much sooner.
“Will there be provision in place so businesses are not waiting a month like the last round?” said Coun Whittaker (Con, Rastrick)
Coun Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said everyone wanted business to get off to a good start following lockdown and there were reasons why Calderdale was opening the scheme later.
“We have slower start up because we hope we have set it up so it is easier for businesses returning not having to come back and provide more information.
“We think this will be more efficient in getting money out there than some of our neighbours.
“We will do our absolute best,” she said.
In previous iterations of the grant the council was constantly having to go back to businesses for information and the aim this time was to get the right information up front and pay the grants as soon as the council possible could, said Coun Scullion.
Coun Scullion expressed some frustration in how some grant schemes were operated by the Government, in response to a question from Coun Colin Hutchinson (Lab, Skircoat) who urged Cabinet to have options ready “on the shelf” to take advantage of possible NHS funding schemes the Government might offer.
He asked how announcements of pots of money impacted on the budget process.
Coun Scullion said it often meant bidding against equally deserving councils to very short deadlines and made planning difficult.
“We are driven spare by the bidding system. It’s like a beauty contest,” she said.