A BUSINESSMAN faces financial ruin because his company has fallen through a loophole in the government’s coronavirus grant scheme red tape.

Terry Bigland, who has run Coffee Concepts (Whalley) Ltd, supplying the hospitality trade, applied for financial assistance after his turnover dropped to zero because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

His £10,000 grant application was rejected because he pays his business rates in with his rent for a unit in the Store First complex at Centurion Park, Blackburn.

The regulations of the government’s emergency grant scheme say councils can only pay cash to firms with an individual business rate account.

His case has been taken up with Chancellor Rishi Sunak by Blackburn MP Kate Hollern.

Mr Bigland, 57 of Warrenside Close in Ramsgreave, said: “My firm, which I run with m y wife Alison, has been supplying coffee and tea to the hotel, cafe and hospitality trade for 15 years. We do everything from sachets through beans and ground coffee to coffee machines.

“I had my best year ever in 2019 but it’s gone to zero because of coronavirus. I am eligible for a small business grant of £10,000 in every respect except for not having a business rate account because I rent from a multi-occupancy site.

“This is a loophole in the government’s red tape. There must be many other businesses in the same position.

“If I don’t get the grant I will be in serious financial trouble. There will be other small businesses which will go bust. The government needs to fix this.”

Mrs Hollern said: “Many constituents have approached me with concerns their circumstances do not meet the government criteria to access essential support during these difficult times. Mr Bigland’s case provides a good illustration as to the complexity of these cases.

“These kind of situations are simply not sustainable and I am pressing the Chancellor on these matters.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council growth boss Cllr Phil Riley said: “Our official's interpretation was correct. The council needs a business rates relationship with the applicant to pay the grants. This loophole needs fixing.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “The Chancellor has outlined an unprecedented package of measures, We will continue to do all we can to support people and businesses.”