APOLOGIES have been offered by Slough Borough Council (SBC) to a businessman who waited weeks for an essential loan for his repair shop to survive the lockdown.

Ranjit Gill, the managing director of Fix Auto, told the Observer the council has had zero engagement with him despite numerous attempts to contact SBC after he applied for the coronavirus business loan set out by the government on April 3.

The autobody repair shop, Fix Auto, is a franchised business and operates in 110 locations across the UK and Mr Gill said most of them were awarded their grants within days of applying to their local authority.

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When the lockdown was implemented in March, Mr Gill said his business saw 87 per cent loss of work in the first week alone and he had to furlough 25 per cent of his workforce as the weeks dragged on.

Since his application – the frustrated autobody shop manger has been hounding the council asking what stage his application is at and for a timescale when he will receive this loan for his business to remain afloat during and after the lockdown.

SBC has now apologised to Mr Gill and say they have actioned his claim and the funds his business is entitled to will go into his bank account on Monday.

Mr Gill said: “My main gripe with the council is that the government made this central decision to make these funds available, but there’s no point in doing these initiatives if the local councils who are in charge of distributing this cash don’t do it in a timely fashion.

“If they were to at least engage with us saying ‘look, Mr Gill, we need X, Y and Z’ but we haven’t had any communication.

“I feel a strong sense of responsibility because ultimately I am responsible for my staff and their families indirectly – but I can’t give them any reassurances because I’m in limbo at the moment.”

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A spokesman for Slough Borough Council said: “We can only apologise to Mr Gill for the confusion surrounding this grant. Mr Gill’s correct application was processed within 24 hours and he will receive the grant in the next few days.

“The council has had 1,443 business grant applications and has already distributed more than £5 million. However, we have had to sift through them carefully as some applications do not hold complete information, some are duplicates and some of which were not for our borough, but we continue to work through them.”

Fix Auto is still open, repairing key workers’ cars to keep them on the road as well as residents’ vehicles but in limited numbers due to staff shortages as well as following social distancing measures.

SBC was given nearly £18 million to allocate this fund to local businesses where figures published on April 27 from the official government website shows only £5,100,000 has been given to 324 out of 1,254 Slough businesses identified to be eligible for the grant were awarded it.