Home   Bury St Edmunds   News   Article

Businesses in Risby near Bury St Edmunds call on government to close 'cracks in system'




Neighbouring businesses are looking to make authorities aware of how a technicality has deprived them of coronavirus grant funding.

Four companies in Symonds Farm, Risby, are without aid because the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) data used by the government had not marked them as eligible for a grant.

“There are cracks in this system,” said Michael Ennis, director of Retrofitted Ltd - one of the companies to have been affected.

Lucy Pettitt and Michael Ennis, Julia Zimmerman, Carl Sadler and Dave Custance. Lucy organic Natural Styling, Retrofitted Ltd and The Fleur at Fornham..They are all businesses in Risby campaigning for improvements to the government's criteria for supporting firms through the coronavirus crisis. They have said they are all falling through the cracks.Picture by Mark Westley.
Lucy Pettitt and Michael Ennis, Julia Zimmerman, Carl Sadler and Dave Custance. Lucy organic Natural Styling, Retrofitted Ltd and The Fleur at Fornham..They are all businesses in Risby campaigning for improvements to the government's criteria for supporting firms through the coronavirus crisis. They have said they are all falling through the cracks.Picture by Mark Westley.

The firm, which designs and installs Campervan interiors, was hoping to benefit from the Small Business Grant Fund and also the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant. However, the firm has not qualified because their premise was ‘not categorised correctly’ by the VOA. This is because criteria stipulates that whoever’s name was on the rating list on March 11 would receive the grant. Retrofitted moved in on February 1, but with the agency taking eight weeks to classify a new case, the company was missed off the list.

Mr Ennis said: “We had a fantastic diary of upcoming work which was incredibly promising. But we, like so many others do need help to maintain any part of our trajectory at this difficult time.

“It would seem a great shame if we were to miss out on eligibility here based on a misunderstanding.”

Others in the estate affected include The Lucy salon, Customstitch and What The Fleur, whose owner Julia Zimmerman said: “The local council has been really helpful but there were better ways this could have been done by the government."

A spokesperson for West Suffolk Council said: “We have spoken to the businesses regularly over the past month and completely sympathise with their situation.

“Unfortunately because the premises weren’t registered before the Government’s cut off, the property has not been assessed for business rate valuation which is why it does not currently qualify for any support.”

- On approaching central government, the reporter was passed between four departments but no comment was received.