Handymen firm refused business grant because of gender discrimination

Maintenance firm called Handymen is REFUSED lockdown business grant by council over its name because of ‘gender discrimination’

  • Property maintenance firm Handymen has managed more than 2,000 properties
  • Company in South Wales was launched in 1987 and employs a number of women
  • Penarth Town Council has refused a £1,000 grant, citing gender discrimination

A maintenance firm named Handymen has been refused a business grant on the grounds of gender discrimination.

Property maintenance firm Handymen has managed more than 2,000 properties since it was launched in 1987 and employs a number of women.

But Penarth Town Council refused a business grant for £1,000 to help the company through the lockdown, and owner James Squire-Wood believes it is because of their name. 

Property maintenance firm Handymen has managed more than 2,000 properties since it was launched in 1987 and employs a number of women

Two applications out of eight were denied by Penarth Town Council, which cited ‘gender discrimination’ for refusing the grant. 

Mr Squire-Wood believes councillors took the ‘politically correct view’ that the name was ‘dated’ and discriminated against women.

He said: ‘We’re not discriminating towards gender at all and that was never our intention.

‘Even by definition, the word ‘handyman’ refers to any person and has nothing to do with gender. It’s just a name.

‘They must have some sort of grounds for putting up this argument, but I want to hear it.

‘We have females who work for us in the company, so it just strikes me as someone attempting to be politically correct through interpreting this incorrectly.

‘I don’t agree with [potentially] being denied this grant especially at the moment as it’s tough for small businesses.’

The company wanted to access the ‘Independent Traders Contribution Fund’, designed to help the high street recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two applications out of eight were denied by Penarth Town Council, which cited ‘gender discrimination’ for refusing the grant

Mr Squire-Wood said he will consider taking legal advice if their application is formally rejected on these grounds.

He added: ‘It is a shock as we have had a lack of contact from the council and when speaking to those that were assisting me with my application, this was never highlighted.

‘If they are to reject it, we’ll have to take it from there. We don’t have any reason to not be eligible for the grant, so if the only grounds is gender discrimination then we’re going to have to defend ourselves.’

He said the firm had a team of ‘reliable, trustworthy experts in every aspect of property maintenance, from plumbers to electricians, gardeners to cleaners.’

The only other application that was denied was from local artist Ivor Davies which was due to ‘failing to meet the criteria and incomplete application.’ 

Further rationale is expected to come to light when the recommendation for refusal is discussed and voted on during a committee meeting on Thursday. 

MailOnline has contacted Penarth Town Council for comment.

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