By Daniel Wood
Businesses in Kirklees who are trying to claim Government grant money have been put at the bottom of the pile by a glitch in the admin system, according to a local business owner.
She has now urged others to be proactive in applying for grants after she was able to get the process sped up.
Michelle Tolley, who runs a salon in Mirfield, said a delay in processing her application for a share of the large sum of £113m that was given to Kirklees Council last month to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, was caused by a glitch on the online forms.
The three-week delay was solved by a 30-minute conversation, and Michelle is now expected to receive the money in her bank account.
The Feelgood Salon owner praised council staff for their support, as speaking to someone brought an end to the “sheer frustration”.
As of April 22nd, 5,168 eligible businesses have received shares of more than £57m from the council in grant aid, and payments continue daily.
The glitch on the application allegedly came from entering a reference number starting with the numerals 96, according to Michelle, who opened her salon 14 years ago.
The box was pre-filled with ‘96’ leading her to assume that she did not need to add the numbers.
This resulted in an incorrect form and it was placed in the holding basket.
Michelle said: “If you end up in the basket, you sit there until everyone else has been dealt with.
“The lady I spoke to at the council was really lovely and more than helpful.
“The system has had teething problems. The people that have suffered from that are at the bottom of the pile.
“I think they have sussed it out now and have been able to rectify it.
“My advice to other people like me is to get on the phone.”
She added: “If you have staff to pay it must be awful.
“I’ve got friends that have got businesses and employees and they can’t afford to pay them. I’m lucky. There’s only me. I don’t have employees.
“But this is the start of my fifth week with no trade and no revenue.
“I’m now living on my savings. They are not there for COVID-19. They are there for my retirement.”
Referring to the Government’s COVID-19 emergency business support measures, Michelle said the money would only scratch the surface of months of lost revenue.
“It’s no competition really but I would rather have that than nothing.
“I’ve been baking bread today, but I’d much rather be at work kneading someone’s shoulders than being at home kneading a sourdough loaf.”
Offering a positive note to other businesses she said: “The money is there, and we are going to get it. It’s just a question of when.”
Grant money is paid in BACS and it can take five days to appear in bank accounts.
A council spokesperson said the authority is treating the release of money as an “absolute priority”.
It said checks on the eligibility of businesses were being kept to a minimum to speed up the process.
Businesses can find information here: www.kirklees.gov.uk/coronavirusbusiness