Many Harlow businesses are suffering because they have not yet received thousands of pounds of Government grants they are entitled to because Harlow Council has failed to distribute them.
Harlow’s MP, Robert Halfon, raised the Council’s failure directly with the Chancellor in the House of Commons, by welcoming the “the financial package” for Harlow’s small businesses “worth well over £160 million”, but adding that he had “been contacted by many businesses in my constituency who have yet to receive much of the grant funding they have been allocated – such as Carol Bush, the wonderful landlord of the Golden Swift pub – because Harlow Council is yet to distribute it.”
The Chancellor made clear “that this cash should get to businesses as soon as possible.”
Commenting on the news, Leader of Harlow Conservatives, Cllr Andrew Johnson, said: “Harlow’s businesses desperately need the cash that the Government has given for them but Harlow Council has failed to pass the money on.
“I have raised this on multiple occasions as and the Council have blamed the delay on ‘new software’ – that is just unacceptable.
“Our Council staff have done an extraordinary job over the past year, but this is an issue of leadership. The Leader of Harlow Council must explain to Harlow businesses why they don’t have the Government cash they’re entitled to.”
Also commenting Robert Halfon MP, said: “I have been working hard to secure financial support for local businesses and I am pleased that so far, we have been supported by a financial package worth well over £160 million.
“However, I have been contacted by many local businesses and organisations who should have received grants in December and January, but have not because Harlow Council has failed to distribute them.
“I pay tribute to the brilliant work done by Council staff this year, but the Labour Leader of Harlow Council must ensure that this is dealt with immediately. If this does not happen now, we will see many local businesses close their doors for the last time.”
UPDATE – 12th January:
Harlow’s MP, Robert Halfon, and the Leader of the Harlow Conservatives, Cllr Andrew Johnson, have written to Leader of Harlow Council, Cllr Mark Ingall, to express “immediate concerns about the Council’s failure to distribute urgent Government grants to hundreds of local businesses”.
They explained that they “have received emails from many desperate businesses who are on their knees because Harlow Council has not distributed thousands of pounds in Government grants to them.”
The letter says that “the Government issued the guidance on how to distribute this grant funding on 10 December 2020. On the 16th of December, we asked the Council why this money had been distributed to local businesses. In response, a Council officer explained that the grant applications process had not yet been launched because the Council was setting up new software to distribute the grants. The Council was asked publicly on 17 December in the Council’s Coronavirus Recovery Working Group about this and promised to resolve it as soon as possible.”
Mr Halfon and Cllr Johnson also mention that “other local Councils have managed to distribute these grants without any issues, yet it took Harlow Council over one month to even open the application process and hundreds of Harlow’s businesses have not received the grants that they are entitled to.”
They say that “this is a matter of absolute urgency and it is why at the first opportunity it was raised with the Chancellor in the House of Commons at the first opportunity” and explain that “these businesses cannot wait further weeks for the financial support the Government has given – many are on their knees. This must be resolved within 24 hours.”
Mr Halfon has strongly encouraged any businesses who have not yet received the grants to contact him directly.