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Property firm refunds Covid money after row involving politician

9 November 2020 | Renting

Property firm refunds Covid money after row involving politician

A property company that owns and manages premises occupied by a politician has returned some £10,000 in furlough money received under the Small Business Grant Support Scheme.

The firm owns and manages premises used by South Antrim’s Northern Ireland Assembly member Paul Girvan. 

Girvan, of the Democratic Unionist Party, has told local media that the money has now been repaid, and that he had contacted the company last week as news of the overpayments emerged.

There has been a series of revelations about the funding from the grant, which has gone to run different premises used by a number of politicians in Northern Ireland. 

This included £30,000 to Sinn Fein; controversy over this has sparked the resignation of a former MP, a Norther Ireland Assembly member and two other party officials.

“We didn’t even know that our landlord received the payment because it was quite clear from the outset that political offices shouldn’t benefit” Girvan has told local media. 

“I’ve never met the landlord and only spoken to the company once in all the time I’ve had the office.”

Girvan told the Antrim Guardian that he was not optimistic that all of the payments made in error would be returned.

“I would say it I don’t think all of it will be recouped. There will be some difficulty in getting all that money back. Many people might have it spent by now, so getting it back is going to be a long process” he says.

In a statement the landlord firm, Cinq Properties, is quoted as saying: “Cinq Properties Ltd like many other businesses in Northern Ireland did receive an unsolicited £10,000 small business grant earlier this year. However, it has now transpired that the company was not entitled to this grant.

“Several attempts were made to repay the funds and the £10,000 was repaid to an account of the Department of Finance on Friday.”

This post has originally been featured in Letting Agent Today.