Over 170 local businesses in Harlow have been waiting up to 6 weeks for business grants from Harlow Council and many have expressed how damaging this has been for their mental health.
One local business owner said: “I’ve been closed since 18th December and I cannot get my grant. The council are not taking calls regarding the grant, I have to pay all my other salon bills without any financial help . My mental health is so bad and this really isn’t helping I’m so frustrated and every time you call the council they tell you a different story. I’ve emailed them I’ve called them I’ve left messages asking for call backs and I get nothing can you offer any advise please I’m desperate”
Another said: “It’s four weeks this week that we have been in lockdown, so I did my usual call to the council today to see if I can speak to someone as I really need an idea of a date we are going to receive this and was told someone will call me back in 10 days.
“I told the lady on the phone, I could actually cry this is draining me so much not having a date from the council to work towards.
“Every week I’m emailing / speaking to people on the phone who we have to pay our bills to while we are closed, pushing back payment dates / explaining our situation and it’s all just so draining and time consuming.
“It’s not good enough that the council haven’t paid this money to us yet.
“I actually would class myself as someone who is mentally strong, and I really do dread the effect this is having on the mental health of many business owners who aren’t as strong as me. Because it’s really getting to me now, so I can’t even begin to image how it’s making other people feel.
“I can honestly see people giving up on their businesses with all this strain, and the stress the council are adding to this is just not acceptable.”
This is just so sad. The Government issued the guidance and money to Harlow Council in December and since then, I have been contacted by dozens of local businesses and organisations who have explained that they have not yet received the money. They are on their knees and this is having a hugely negative impact on their mental health.
I have contacted the Council every time I have been contacted by a business and I wrote an urgent letter to the Leader of the Council two weeks ago requesting that this be resolved urgently. I also raised this in Parliament with the Chancellor who said ‘this cash should get to businesses as soon as possible.’ It is wrong and Harlow businesses are suffering because of the Council’s failures. I have sent every case to senior officers of the council.