South Downs businesswoman calls for support to prevent job losses

A South Downs businesswoman is calling for more support for limited companies in a bid to prevent job losses.

Wednesday, 19th August 2020, 5:22 pm

Ailsa Tavares, who runs Travel Promoters, said the first tranche of grant funding released by Horsham District Council was aimed at companies with business rates or rural companies – leaving her home based travel business ineligible for the cash.

She said a lack of funding has forced her to make two staff redundant and she expects to shortly let a third team member go.

Thakeham resident Ailsa added: “I started getting upset not for myself.

Ailsa Tavares - annoyed at lack of support from government. Pic Steve Robards SR2008193 SUS-200819-130105001

“You have got to take the rough with the smooth.

“I got really upset when I have had to make two and about to make three people redundant.

“These are people with children.”

Travel restrictions and quarantine rules have caused business to dry up, Ailsa said.

She added: “There’s no end in sight. How long before you can fly to South Africa.”

Ailsa said she has ‘high hopes’ for a discretionary grant which she applied for through Horsham District Council on July 4. Her application is due for follow up this week.

She urged councils across the country not to ‘sit on’ money and said they should ‘start finding people that they can give it to’.

Ailsa is calling for support to be given to directors of limited companies in the same way self-employed and PAYE employees have been supported.

She said they can access the furlough scheme but directors generally pay themselves through dividends – a share of the firm’s profits – which makes accessing help complex.

Ailsa added: “A responsible director pays themselves when the business is profitable. That’s good business practice.

“There’s been support for staff but no support for directors.”

But the impact on her business has far reaching consequences, Ailsa added.

She said as well as job cuts in the UK the lack of tourist trade was leaving people in Africa ‘starving’.

Ailsa added: “It reaches far and wide. It’s sad and beyond everybody’s control.

“If I can do something that highlights the plight of many – that’s my concern.

“I’m not starving but I know there are people that are.

“It’s about local community. It’s about being able to keep local people employed.

“We have got to keep our local community thriving.”

A Government spokesman said £617 million has been made available to local authorities to make payments to small businesses at their discretion.

He added: “We are working with them to ensure funds get to as many as possible.

“Local authorities are responsible for administering the fund and we urge businesses that have not yet received funding to speak to their local council.

“For those that aren’t eligible for income support schemes, we have put an additional £9.3 billion into the welfare system to provide emergency support, and businesses can continue to access more than £50 billion in government-guaranteed loans, flexibility with tax bills and VAT deferrals.”

A Horsham District Council spokeswoman said it has awarded more than £990,000 to local businesses that have applied for the discretionary business grant scheme as a result of the pandemic.

She added: “Due to the discretionary nature of the scheme, along with the finite funds, it has been vital that each application has a comprehensive review before a decision is made so we can ensure we are helping businesses that are most in need of this support.

“Further to the discretionary grant scheme, Horsham District Council has also awarded over £28million to more than 2,000 local businesses through the small business and retail, hospitality and leisure grants.

“It should be noted that the Discretionary Business Grants Scheme operates within criteria set by the Government.”

HM Treasury has been approached for comment.