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28th Oct, 2021

Labour calls on the district council to help businesses access Government funding

LABOUR leader Councillor Michael Thompson is calling on the district council to put together a new formula as soon as possible so town businesses can access Government funding.

Coun Thompson’s call comes after a debacle in 2017 when then chancellor Philip Hammond announced a £435million relief package to help local businesses pay their business rates.

Bromsgrove District Council received £134,500 of the funds but, using the Government’s ‘one size fits all’ formula, only gave out £46,000 as most firms were not eligible.

At the time the council, along with Redditch Borough, was named in the national press as one of the councils who had spent the least amount of its grant to help its local businesses.

Other councils had spent all of their relief to support local trade.

In 2018, Coun Thompson moved a motion at a full council meeting, calling for an investigation to be held into why such a small amount had been spent.

It passed and was referred to the council’s Overview and Scrutiny board to be probed.

The findings of the review were the council could have applied an alternative formula, which would have resulted in almost all of the relief going to local and businesses and none being given back to central government.

It recommended responsibility be given to the finance officer to apply the new formula for future and existing packages so business owners could received the greatest benefit possible.

Coun Thompson said he was grateful to councillors for allowing the review which had been an incredibly useful exercise and would ensure businesses did not miss out again.

“In a national climate of political divide it was encouraging to see councillors put politics aside and get to the bottom of what went wrong – and how we could learn for the future.”

The recommendation was heard by the council’s Cabinet last Wednesday.

A Bromsgrove District Council spokesperson said: “Officers are working through the financial modelling to ensure all relevant funds are distributed.”

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