More than a third of businesses in Mid Ulster who applied for the government's Localised Restrictions Support Scheme (LRSS) have had their applications rejected.
According to data produced by Finance Minister Conor Murphy in response to a written question from SDLP MLA Justin McNulty, 500 businesses in the area had their applications refused.
The figure represents 33.5% of the 1494 applications made by businesses in the area. The data also showed that 142 applications (9.5%) were still unprocessed, with the support funding yet to be paid.
£4,892,000 has been paid out as part of the scheme in Mid Ulster, with the area receiving the sixth highest amount of funding.
Applications in the Causeway Coast and Glens area received a total of £5,453,256 and had the lowest percentage of rejected applications (28.6%) of all eleven local government districts.
8.7% (160) of their applications were yet to be processed.
Almost half of applications (48.3%) in the Derry and Strabane area were rejected, the highest amount of rejections among all the council areas. Just 5% (89) of applications remain unprocessed.
The area has received £5,714,576 to date.
The Localised Restrictions Support Scheme was initially set up in November to provide support to businesses which had to close or had their business activity curtailed by Covid regulations.
Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone has said the process is uneccesarily complicated.
“There are a number of schemes open at the minute and it is creating some confusion,” he told the County Derry Post.
“The biggest problem is that this one is very hard to understand.
“People are ringing me asking which one they should fill out and what they should put down.
“The LRSS is based on rates. If you are paying rates, you will get it. Information that can help – such as the NI Business Info website - is available but if you don't know where to find that support, it's harder.
“The majority of people applying for this support are small business owners and a third of them have been rejected.
“There is an appeals mechanism, but they need to make the process as clear as possible, because there is a lot of pressure on people who are trying their best to keep their business going,” added the local politician.
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