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Discretionary Disgrace!

OPINION: Adam Phillips

I’m not one for bashing local authority, our local council, Test Valley Borough Council are actually not bad at all. They support businesses in many ways, including Business Incentive Grant, Independent Retail Grants, Enterprise Training (for Free!) The list goes on… There’s a reason that the local council have won numerous awards for supporting local enterprise and SME’s.


Corona Virus has devastated many businesses, thousands across the country have suffered due to the restrictions of Lockdown.

There were millions of people who were missed and so the UK Government funded local councils to provide those who were not eligible for other grant schemes, this was aptly named the ‘Discretionary Grants’.

This ‘Discretionary Grant’ is, again, mediocre AT BEST!

Millions of businesses will lose AGAIN due to lack of grant exposure. The rules in Test Valley are clear:

If you have been forced to close OR if you have remained open AND PAY BUSINESS RATES – then you can qualify for a discretionary grant.

Other than that. You’re out.

So what happens to all those people who don’t pay business rates? Or those businesses that have not been forced to close – but due to the nature of ‘Lockdown’ simply cannot work? Do they not have overheads?

I’ve been speaking recently to numerous Private Hire and Taxi Firms based in Andover and the response is the same.

  • Insurance
  • Finance agreements (because TVBC insist on vehicles being no older than 6 years old)
  • Up keep of vehicle
  • MOT
  • Tax
  • TVBC Private Hire Licence
  • TVBC Vehicle Licence
  • TVBC Operators Licence
  • Website up keep
  • Accountants
  • App costs

These are a just a few of the common payments that taxi firms pay out for, however, one driver, Scott Buchan from PHAT Services has told me, he hasn’t worked a weekend in over a year now.

This is just Private Hire and Taxi work – there are many industries, businesses and sole traders that have been completely ignored and, in my personal opinion it is scandalous that people who have tried to work for themselves and due to no fault of their own, have either had to close or been forced into a very stressful situation, financially.

Simply saying that you haven’t been forced to close and therefore ‘You’re ok’ is outrageous. Simply stating that your income has been looked after, so you should be ok, is outrageous.

Wage is just one cost to a business. Ensuring ones wage does not secure the business and I surprised that someone as educated as Rishi Sunak, doesn’t seem to understand that. If the grants distribution is determined by local policies however, then Test Valley Borough Council, should hold their head in shame as it is simply – not good enough.

I contacted TVBC for an explanation and it was the following:

For a grant to be made, a business must be liable to business rates if they are able to remain open. If a business is not liable to business rates it MUST have been forced to be closed. – Revenues and Welfare Manager – Test Valley Borough Council.

So those businesses who do not pay business rates or have not been forced to close, unfortunately, you are still forgotten. I appreciate that the financial state of this country is ruin and the government have done a lot for many people. I can’t help but think that they simply did NOT go far enough, for a government that would do ‘Whatever it takes’ it would seem that it’s more a case of ‘whatever they are willing to do’.

For those businesses out there who are suffering on their own, I cannot offer you money, but what I am more than happy to do is to review your expenses FREE OF CHARGE for you. If nothing else, if we can reduce what our expenditure you have and this helps keep valuable money in your pocket and it provides some kind of financial pressure- then GREAT!

This is an opinion piece by Adam Phillips. We occasionally share opinion pieces to spark debate or conversation which may not necessarily be the view of the Love Andover organisation.

About the author

Adam Phillips

After being in the banking industry for over 10 years, its time to help educate people and business owners to the best of my ability!
We live in a world where (For some reason) Money isn't taught in the education system at all.
I'm here to help support both the household and the small business owner by helping save them money. More often than not, the household and the business owner is not too dissimilar. It's so easy to go about your day and never take the time to work out if what you are doing is the most reliable, most efficient or most relevant for you. This is where I come in!
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