Thousands of UK small businesses that missed out on an estimated £1 billion of small business grants have signed a petition that will be investigated by the government.
Many of these businesses have missed out on the COVID-19 grant due to not having business rates account with their local authority, according to Johnathan Ratcliffe, senior broker at offices.co.uk. Since serviced offices tenants pay rates included in a bundled package, they are not eligible for support.
“Small businesses across the UK are absolutely fuming; and at no fault of their own, because their choice of office type dictated whether they got a £10,000 cash grant or not,” said Ratcliffe.
ONE Global Mobility co-founder Piranavan Vimalraj, which is based in a Regus office, said that the coronavirus lockdown has put a pause on nearly all of its sales opportunities for 2020.
“We are devastated to hear that purely because we are based in a serviced office, we do not qualify for the Small Business Grant Fund,” said Vimalraj. “From our perspective, we pay a monthly bundle fee that includes rates, and so, we are no different to those businesses that are within the business rates system”
Many other small businesses are having to jump through hoops to prove their eligibility by submitting several documents including lease agreements, utility bills, office insurance documents and more.
Ratcliffe added that if the petition can reach 100,000 signatures, it will be discussed in Parliament, which is essential to keeping these businesses afloat.