Anyone fancy a grant? Free Covid grants here! Roll up!

To keep everything going during the pandemic central government has been throwing billions of pounds at businesses, individuals and of course local authorities, although many who are self-employed have been ignored.

A while back the Enquirer asked LBTH to provide us with details of where the government Covid-19 money had gone but it said it did not have a clue.

Which means either LBTH genuinely don’t know or they do know but aren’t telling us. Fortunately it was only £100 million or so, chicken feed when it ain’t your money. (Think they did eventually tell someone though…)

LBTH is a closed box. No information ever escapes. Scrutiny? You having a laugh?

Just stupid

Fortunately the Wapping Mole is stupid and just keeps digging away until he turns up interesting stuff he can tell you about.

Not only is Moley stupid he is also overly optimistic at times, to the extent that he still submits Freedom of Information requests in the belief he will get a truthful answer.

Further to his search for the £100m that the council could not find Moley submitted a FoI request (ref: 25795607) on 27 November 2020 asking for details of the Covid-19 Business Support Grants: Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund.

On 12 January 2021 he received a response, a one tab Excel spreadsheet showing 435 DGS (Discretionary Grants Scheme?) payments worth £2,818,820 which you can download below in CSV format.

Impressed? Don’t be, because on 6 January 2021 we received another Excel file detailing 3,211 Covid-19 payments worth £48,445,000 from a completely different route.

You can download that file in CSV format below too.

Note: To make the data clearer the Discretionary Grants Scheme data only appears in the first of these files and has been removed from the second.

This second file was sent to us by a long-standing friend of Moley which in turn had been sent to that person by someone else (who we do not know the identity of) but also seems to have been created by LBTH and is genuine.

In addition to the DGS (Discretionary Grants Scheme) content this file also had three other tabs detailing SBGF (Small Business Grants Fund) RHLG 10 and RHLG 25 funds (Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Funds).

The Discretionary Grants Scheme data in both files looks the same but we have not properly audited it. The Discretionary Grants Scheme data is more detailed than the other funds.

£51,263,820

Mole is a little puzzled about receiving a minimum of information from a LBTH FoI and much more information from, er, someone we have never met. But thanks very much to that person anyway!

If you are interested please download these files and have a look at who got what, we are sure there are one or two interesting grant payments in there.

Quite why Tower Hamlets council did not want Moley to see the extra 2,776 records in the second file he can only guess at.

Glorifying the slaughter of innocent women

One grant payment Moley did find odd is to this organisation.

Jack the Ripper Museum Ltd record at OpenCorporates.com

Yep, seems the Jack the Ripper Museum got £10,000. There is no suggestion whatsoever that there is anything improper about the application for or approval of this grant.

We do find it odd that as the Jack the Ripper ‘Museum’ in Cable Street was shut down after many protests by local residents because it glorified the slaughter of innocent women and was no way a museum that someone decided it was worthy of a grant.

Rose not without a thorn

All the above, while interesting (to some!) is not the main point of the story but was essential to set the scene. If Excel spreadsheets can set a scene. But you know what we mean. Anyway here is the more interesting part. ‘It was a dark and stormy night…’

Anyone in the voluntary or charity sector in Tower Hamlets knows that the Biggs administration runs grant provision in the same way as Lutfur Rahman ran his grants provision – if you are in favour you get a grant, if not you can get lost.

Wonder what the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government (DHCLG) Commissioners would make of that if they ever found out? Or Justice Mawrey? Probably best to keep this between ourselves.

If the politicians are not careful this borough could give nepotism a bad name, then where would we be?

A friend of the Enquirer in the west of the borough runs two small charities supporting those residents in need. Our friend used to be a stalwart Tower Hamlets Labour Party supporter until he got sick and tired of the nonsense TH Labour indulges in to the detriment of those it claims to serve and told them where to shove their red roses, thorns and all.

Since then he has never received a single council grant despite numerous applications. This is for no other reason than he does not support Labour.

This is common across the borough and will be familiar to many. Since then the charity has limped along but is hardly functioning.

In Tower Hamlets a little spite goes a long way. It is almost as if someone high up in the council feels they have been personally snubbed.

‘Oi geezer, want a grant? ‘

So imagine his surprise one day in September 2020 when he received a phone call from a certain person at LBTH asking him if he would like a £10,000 grant?

Our friend was more than a little suspicious and asked where the money was from?

‘The government Covid-19 money!’ was the reply.

He was told that, in true bargain basement sales style, he should not delay in taking up this offer but fill a form in and email it back.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is loads_of_money.png
Anyone for some cash?

So he did.

No sooner than he could say “Covid-19 money? Should that not be used for its intended purpose?” said cash was in his charities bank account and is now being put to good use helping the poor.

In fact, and Mole can personally vouch for this, the £10k is being used for Covid relief of families who have had no money for food so is in fact serving its intended purpose.

Our friend still worries that he will be asked for it back, despite knowing that it has only filled a small part of the hole in his charity’s bank account caused by grants being withheld on the basis of political allegiance for umpteen years and him using his own money to keep it going.

Neither Moley or his friend has any idea of how many instant grants were handed out. Probably more than a few.

More interesting to know would be who got these grants? After all our friend got one despite having nothing for contempt for TH Labour.

So how much money did those Labour luvvies who are in bed with TH Labour get? And their mates? And their mates mates? And where did the money go? Did they, like our friend, immediately put it into a charity bank account? Or was there some more, er, pressing need for it?

Or was everything dealt with by the book? If so why did there seem to be such urgency to get the Covid-19 cash assigned?

Joke is our friend hates Tower Hamlets Labour even more than he did before.

Appeal for information

Have you been offered a Covid-19 grant by Tower Hamlets Counci when you had not applied for one? If so please get in touch with Moley hello@eastendenquirer.org and tell him your story, total confidentiality assured.

Mole’s chances of finding out exactly where the Covid-19 money has gone are remote, but that will not stop him from trying.

Maybe he should apply for a council grant to support his investigations? Now there’s an idea!

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As community journalists we do exactly what it says on our tin – we work for the community.

In Tower Hamlets, which covers most of London’s East End, that means we spend a lot of time investigating allegations of political corruption.

It is an unfortunate fact that the poorest local authority in the country is still beset by the highest levels of corruption.

As Love Wapping we were instrumental in exposing the electoral corruption of Mayor Lutfur Rahman.

We hoped that would be an end to our work – no such chance!