Extra staff have been drafted by Moray Council as it tries to cope with the extra administrative workload of managing Covid-19 support grants.
Throughout the pandemic the Scottish Government has published more and more details about various funds to support firms.
Dozens of funding options have been unveiled with packages for taxi and private hire drivers the latest to be confirmed yesterday.
However, the support has placed extra burdens on local authorities to process and check applications to ensure the right money is awarded.
Moray Council keeping pace processing rising Covid-19 workload
Yesterday Moray Council revealed staff from other departments had been drafted to cope with the Covid-19 workload – but stressed it was up-to-date with registering claims.
The Scottish Government says more than 13,000 applications totalling £31.4 million had been processed by councils in November and December alone.
But Tim Eagle, leader of Moray Council’s Conservative group, fears “a lack of guidance” amid the ever-changing confirmation and review of funds could delay money being awarded.
He said: “We know that 12 new funding schemes have been announced in January alone, some of which are not even open yet.
“That is on top of all the other funds from different government departments – all of which appear to have different rules that can then be subject to change.
“It is a very complex system for the council to navigate, particularly when there is a lack of guidance.
“Obviously, the council wants to get the support out to those that need it as quickly as possible.
“But that is easier said than done when there is such confusion about how these systems are supposed to work.”
Applicants urged to take care filling out forms to reduce workload
Moray Council’s economic development department has been handling applications for Covid-19 support.
Authority management have been having to make-do with staff already on the books to cope with the additional task of reviewing the claims – but have been able to redeploy employees from other teams.
Meanwhile, the local authority has encouraged applicants to ensure they include all relevant documents to reduce the administrative workload of processing the Covid-19 support claim.
Yesterday the authority explained processing applications had been made a priority.
A spokeswoman said: “Our economic development team is prioritising the processing of business grants, supported by additional staff, as we recognise the importance of maximising the money being distributed locally.
“Although it represents a significant increase in workload on top of the economic recovery plan agreed in October, we are up-to-date with registering the applications, which are now going through the checking and processing stages.
“We’re urging all applicants to ensure forms are completed correctly, with the necessary documents attached, as this helps us speed up the process further.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are incredibly grateful to local authorities for the power of work they have done and continue to do to help us get lifeline support to as many businesses as possible during this pandemic.
“To help meet demand we have provided local authorities with an additional £12m to help them to recruit staff and speed up payments.
“The latest figures for the Strategic Framework Business Fund – our core business support fund – show that in November and December, local authorities processed 13,462 business support grants totalling £31.4m.
“The December payments from this fund were made over a week early and local authorities are on track to make the January payment, despite a large increase in the number of new applications this month.”