Wakefield Conservative Association criticised for claiming £10k Covid grant

Wakefield's Conservative Association claimed a taxpayer-funded £10,000 Covid grant earlier this year.

Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 5:21 pm
The Wakefield Conservative Association said it was entitled to the cash, but other parties were critical of the move.

The local party took the cash to pay business rates at its headquarters on Zetland Street in the city in April.

Firms across the UK were given relief grants by the state to help pay their bills after lockdown was first introduced in late March.

The Conservatives said they were entitled to the money and were "no different" to any other organisation in needing to cover costs during the pandemic.

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Wakefield Liberal Democrat councillor Tom Gordon said the move was a "slap in the face" for local businesses and voters

But the Liberal Democrats called it a "slap in the face" for local businesses.

It follows revelations by the Huffington Post earlier this month that the Conservative Association in Selby had also claimed the £10,000 grant.

Wakefield Liberal Democrat councillor Tom Gordon said: "Throughout the course of this pandemic I have had countless business owners get in touch understandably worried about the impact of Covid, and the financial hardship it is causing.

"This revelation will come as a slap in the face of not only local business owners, but residents and our key workers.

"Whilst the Tories might like you to believe that we are all in this together, it is clear that they are only in it for themselves."

The Wakefield Labour group was also critical of the move.

A spokesperson for the party said: "There are lots of questions that the local Conservative Association needs to answer around this issue, given that the fund was created to support local businesses who have been struggling as a result of the Covid pandemic, and to prevent job losses."

Further grants have been made available to businesses across England to compensate for the current second lockdown, with £7m having been set aside for the Wakefield district.

In response to the criticism, a spokesman for the Conservative Party said: "Any organisation that pays business rates can apply for the coronavirus business rate relief fund. They are deemed eligible by the local council.

"Local political associations are no different from other organisations in facing challenging times.

"The purpose of the coronavirus business rate relief fund is to protect organisations and prevent local job losses.

"This funding from the coronavirus business rate relief fund is in line with guidance from HMRC and the Electoral Commission."

Local Democracy Reporting Service