Business Grants in Derbyshire Dales
By Peter Dobbs
According to an article in Derbyshire Live, just over 60% of the approx £36.3 million of money made available by the Government had been transferred to the accounts of 1907 local Dales businesses by the end of April 22nd.
The data underlines the number of businesses in the Derbyshire Dales area - its £36.3million 'pot' is larger than that for any other District or Borough Council in Derbyshire except Derby City - which had approx £46 million to hand out. Progress in the distribution varies widely with South Derbyshire having transferred only 15% and North East Derbyshire 77% - data from 20th April.
It is of course rarely possible to make direct comparisons and the variation in the numbers of businesses that Borough and District Councils have had to contact does have a large variation, with Derbyshire Dales (2959) and Derby City (3892) being among the largest.
This underlines how significant 'SME' business is in our rural economy. Factor in the current issues with dairy farming and potential issues with lamb sales to the continent if we fail to negotiate a 'deal' with the EU and we can begin to appreciate the size of the problems that loom even after the 'lockdown exit' begins.
Most councils hoping to complete distribution of the grants by the end of April.
It is tempting to speculate what might be going through the minds of the council officers who are allocating these vast sums. Are they wondering what might have been possible had it not taken a pandemic to locate the 'magic money tree' in some corner of the Treasury? Derbyshire Dales District Council has for several years been forced to seek ways of saving money, closing toilets, reducing maintenance of parks and playgrounds, cutting staff posts and hours. The total saved in the last few years by careful economy has now been handed out many times over in a little over a month.
It is a sobering thought that the estimated target of £160,000 to be saved by closing some public toilets in Derbyshire Dales last year has now been handed out in grants every two hours of each working day during the past month or so.
Of course the grants are necessary - the county and the county are both fighting for their economic survival. However it is a salutary reminder of the scale of what is currently being done locally and what was not done in better times in the past.