Milton Keynes Council extends grant scheme to provide a further £2 million to local businesses

Milton Keynes Council is set to provide local businesses with an additional £2 million in funding, though local Conservatives believe that the current rollout of support grants has been far too slow.

Milton Keynes Council's new Progressive Alliance, between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, believe that the Conservative government's business support grants have fallen short and left many local businesses behind.

They are now extending the discretionary support scheme to provide a further £2m to local businesses and business owners impacted by the pandemic by the end of the month.

Over £5m has already been given to businesses in MK through the scheme and additional funding of £2m will be allocated to previously excluded at-home businesses and leisure and tourism venues.

Councillor Rob Middleton, Labour Progressive Alliance Cabinet Member for Budget and Resources said: "Once again local Councils are stepping in where the Conservative Government has let people down.

"Business owners, particularly at home businesses have been left behind and extending the discretionary grant scheme will get another £2m into the hands of business owners at the end of the month, which will be key to getting them up and running again as restrictions are eased”

"Economic recovery is a priority for the new Progressive Alliance, and by working together this is a great example of how we can work bolder and faster to deliver what people and businesses in Milton Keynes need."

Conversely, Milton Keynes Conservatives believe that the current rollout of grant money by the Council has been far too slow, causing many local businesses and self-employed workers to seriously struggle under lockdown restrictions. 

Milton Keynes Council was provided with £7.8m in Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) funding in January, but as of March, only 54% of the funding had been distributed.

Having previously called on the Council to speed up their distribution of business support funding in January, the Conservatives were told by the Labour Council Leader, Cllr Pete Marland, that they were planning to fund it at a pace of £300,000 per month – meaning it wouldn’t be spent until April 2022. 

The Conservatives believe that local businesses could stand to lose up to £2.35 million of funding if things continue as they are.

Cllr Alex Walker, Leader of the Conservative Group, said: "This would be a double blow to struggling businesses in MK. 

"We warned the Council that they needed to distribute the grant money quicker so that businesses can continue to operate and jobs could be saved. 

"Now we find ourselves in a situation where business in MK could miss out due to slow rollout of government support funding while neighbouring councils get extra cash to boost their recovery. 

"It demonstrates yet again that the Council doesn’t know who needs support, where they are or what they need. Years of ignoring businesses by Labour is now resulting in a failure to give them the funding to stay open.  

"It’s one of this Council’s biggest failures in their handling of the pandemic."