Over 1,000 businesses in Doncaster rejected for Covid-19 relief grants

More than 1,000 business owners who applied for Covid-19 grant relief were rejected by Doncaster Council officers.

Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 12:30 pm

Figures from a general report on fraud prevention within the local authority shows 940 applications for the Small Business Rate Relief were turned down out of 4,832 – a total of 20 per cent.

But the council paid out to 14 businesses which they should not have on further investigation. This was listed as ‘error’ or ‘fraud’ and payments totaled £140,000 out of a possible £39 million. Council bosses said they had recovered around £60,000.

Figures also show 847 businesses were successful in receiving the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief but 25 per of the total applications were refused. A total of £15 million of the grant has been paid out.

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Doncaster Council officials have been hearing about how many Covid-19 relief grants have been paid out

Council bosses also identified 669 applications where ‘duplicate claims detected between grants’.

The Discretionary Grant had 896 applications - 586 were approved but 310 were rejected.

Nicola Frost-Wilson, internal audit manager, said payments down as error or fraud were very small and further checks will be carried out.

She said: “Owing to the speed of roll out of the grants, little guidance was available from Government to determine what counter fraud checks should be undertaken before any grant was awarded and paid.

“However, Doncaster Council chose to undertake checks before payment of any grant amounts in order to verify the business and prevent as much fraud as possible.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.