A FALMOUTH businessman says he is facing the 'awful' choice of whether to let staff go after businesses were told that they may only get half of the cash they needed to keep them going during lockdown.

Cornwall Council told businesses it had seen a surge of applications for the latest Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) scheme that has outstripped available funds by more than £14.5 million.

The council says it could be six weeks before they knew which businesses would be getting any money, if at all, and then it would only likely be 50% of what they had applied for.

Oliver Growcott-Smith, who runs The Windjammer Cafe and Bar, formerly the Falmouth Watersports Centre, in Falmouth with his business partner Jake Heslip says the email sent to him by Cornwall Council about the delay was "terrible" news to receive and he was now having to contemplate letting staff go.

Read next:

Mr Growcutt-Smith currently has 15 to 16 staff on furlough and has been paying £3,000 a month out of his own pocket since the start of the lockdown to pay their tax, national insurance and pensions. It was understood he would get this money back through the grant as he did after the last lockdown.

He says he is having to use the money he made during the summer and what he'd saved for tax and corporate tax next year to pay for the staff while he is closed. On top of that he has £2k a month rent to pay. He says by the time the lockdown is finished he was going to be tens of thousands of pounds worse off.

"Cornwall Council have taken away any incentive for a small business to keep going and their staff employed," he told the Packet. "I've got 15 staff members who all need to pay their rent and there's no incentive whatsoever.

"The council are basically saying for this three month period we want you to give nine grand of my own money essentially, with no guarantee I'll get any of it back.

"For me it's awful. Awful for me and awful for my staff members because I'm having to contemplate getting rid of them.

Read Next:

He added: "The big thing for me is how the council says it's got everybody working on it but it is going to take six weeks to sort out. How on earth is it going to take six weeks and you've only just told us this now?

"I've got three kids to support and it's horrible to be put in this position, this worry. If they haven't got the money they should at least say you're all going to get something if you qualify. They haven't said that so that means panic for most people. It was a terrible email to receive."

He says this will be magnified across the county with over three and a half thousand businesses all over Cornwall in a similar position to him.

"Over the next six weeks I'll be shocked if there aren't a lot of staff that are let go, if it's going to take that long. Obviously the council say they after doing everything they can but that's just not good enough."