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LIFELINE THROWN TO SEVERELY IMPACTED SMALL FIRMS

Updated: 2 days ago

New discretionary grants for the hardest hit.


* Important update *

After initial exclusion, businesses who are eligible for S.E.I.S.S. are now eligible to apply for the Discretionary Grant *


A new £617m top-up fund has been announced by the UK Government, to help save small firms impacted by coronavirus, who have missed out on other forms of support.


This additional fund is aimed at small businesses who were not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund, or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Fund and who are now struggling to survive due to the coronavirus shutdown, but through no fault of their own are unable to access other grant funding.


Unlike the previous grants there is currently no requirement that the business must have had an assessment for business rates.


There will be three levels of grant payments, £25,000, £10,000, and the freedom for local authorities to make discretionary payments, of any amount under £10,000.


Businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income, due to coronavirus restriction measures.



WHO WILL BE ELIGIBLE AND WHO WON’T?


This grant funding is only for businesses that are not eligible for other support schemes.


Businesses which have received cash grants from any central government COVID related scheme, apart from the CJRS, SEISS, BBL or CBILS, are ineligible for funding from the Discretionary Grants Fund.



Such grant schemes include but are not limited to : -


• Small Business Grant Fund

• Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant

• The Fisheries Response Fund

• Domestic Seafood Supply Scheme (DSSS).

• The Zoos Support Fund

• The Dairy Hardship Fund

Businesses who have applied for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme are eligible to apply for this scheme.


Businesses who are eligible for the Self Employed Income Support Scheme are eligible to apply for this scheme.


Local authorities have been instructed to make payments as quickly as possible to support struggling businesses, with first payments likely by mid-June.


Local authorities will take online applications soon via their websites, once they have confirmed internally how they will benchmark applications.


The funding is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs and government guidance to local authorities is that they should prioritise :-



· Businesses in shared spaces which do not have their own business rates assessment;


· Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment;


· Small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, but instead are in receipt of charitable business rates relief


· Bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates.


However, local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need and the allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities.


For clarity the list set out above is not intended to be exhaustive, but is intended to guide the local authority to the candidates the government considers should be a priority for the scheme.


Authorities should determine for themselves whether particular situations not listed are broadly similar in nature to those above and, if so, whether they should be eligible for grants from this discretionary fund


Authorities will take into account the scale of impact of COVID-19 losses : -


· the level of fixed costs faced by the business in question

· the number of employees

· whether businesses have had to close completely

· are able/unable to trade online


Each authority will adapt its own approach to local circumstances, and advertise the fund for application on it’s website, once the monies from the Small Business Grant and Retail Hospitality and Leisure Grant have been disbursed.


To give businesses clarity on the size of the awards, local authorities will set out clear criteria for determining the appropriate level of grant.


The local authority can access a maximum 5% top up, on their additional share of the Small Business Grant and Retail Hospitality Leisure Grant funding received from central government in April, once it has allocated, or planned to allocate all of the initial funding.


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