On 1 April the Government released funds to Hackney Council to administer an estimated £64m worth of grants to businesses in the borough as part of the coronavirus small business and retail, leisure and hospitality grant funds.
Since the grants were announced by the Government the Council has been working around the clock to develop and implement a significant amount of new infrastructure to administer these payments.
The Council appreciates that businesses are relying on these grants to pay bills, staff and overhead costs and is doing everything in its power to get these out to businesses as swiftly as possible.
The main challenges we and many other Councils have faced include:
Only having bank account details for businesses who pay their business rates by direct debit.
Contacting business owners who are not currently in their premises and unable to receive letters.
Resources to administrate the grants, rate reliefs and manage hundreds of enquiries from businesses.
Delays in Government guidance around State Aid and grant fund eligibility.
The work involved in administering these grants has included:
Checking 11,000+ business rates accounts against the eligibility criteria for both rate relief and grants.
Developing an online grant submission form, in line with Government guidance on data collection requirements, so the Council can collect bank details and email addresses from businesses.
The development of bank account verification processes to ensure that payments go to legitimate accounts linked to the business and are not fraudulently claimed.
Communications targeting business owners not using their premises and unable to receive post to inform and direct them to the online grant submission form.
In the last two weeks, the Council has processed over 600 grants worth paid £10 million, where it already had businesses’ details.
Where the Council did not hold these details and has received applications through its new online grant form, payments should be made by Friday 24 April, following the processing and validation of more than 3,000 applications.
Businesses who make claims online from now will be paid, if eligible, within seven working days, allowing time to process eligibility and bank account checks. In some cases, the Council’s Business Rates team may need to contact businesses for further information, which could mean payment could take longer than this.
Due to the high volume of enquiries the Council is receiving, please do not contact our Business Rates team for an update unless you have not received your payment after seven working days, or before 24 April if you have already submitted your claim.
Find out more about the Council’s wider £100million support package for businesses, its advocacy on behalf of businesses to the Government, and join the Hackney Business Network.