MORE than 3,000 businesses across Dorset have not received cash as part of a scheme to help them stay afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic, figures reveal.

The Federation of Small Businesses has urged councils across the country to get cash to the thousands of companies still in need of support.

In March, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 for small and medium-sized businesses to support them during the coronavirus crisis.

The cash is provided for a business property so firms with multiple outlets can receive more than one payment.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Borough Council was yet to pay 1,138 business properties flagged as qualifying for help by May 31, the latest Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy figures show.

This means 83 per cent of the 6,844 properties earmarked had been sent grants – below the national average of 86 per cent.

Firms in the area have received £72.8 million so far, from an allocated pot of £128.8 million.

In the Dorset Council area there were 2,260 businesses waiting for help with 78 per cent sent grants.

Firms had received £96.8 million from a pot of £133.8 million.

Councils across England had paid out grants worth £10.1 billion to 820,000 business properties by the end of May – 82 per cent of the money made available.

Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said many councils are doing their best to distribute the grants announced in March.

“However, it is disappointing to see that some councils are still lagging behind the rest, which means that there are thousands of small businesses that are still waiting for this urgent support," he added.

“It is the responsibility of councils and local authorities to distribute these funds as quickly as possible to help struggling small firms through this pandemic.

"I would urge any councils that still have sizeable chunks of their funding to distribute to do so sooner rather than later.

"Equally, we need to see authorities moving as quickly as possible to allocate additional, discretionary funding to those most in need."

There were five councils across the country that had paid grants to all business properties deemed eligible, according to the data.

Richard Watts, chairman of the Local Government Association’s resources board, said: “Government grants are a vital lifeline to businesses struggling at this time and worried about the future.

“Councils have worked hard to distribute more than £10 billion of this vital funding to small businesses. This has been a huge undertaking.”

The government support takes two forms. The Small Business Grants Fund is worth £10,000 and available to those who ordinarily also qualify for relief on their business rates due to their small size.

The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund is open to those which would have qualified for a 100 per cet reduction in business rates under the previously announced Expanded Retail Discount scheme as of March 11.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said local authorities have been working flat out to ensure funds get to hard-pressed small business owners.