• Eamonn Watson

LOCAL GRANTS INELIGIBILITY WORRY

Updated: Nov 17

Some of England's hardest hit businesses may now miss out on the discretionary, Local Restrictions Support Grant, as an overly rigid process could define them as ineligible.


Any struggling businesses falling though the cracks, would see that as a huge, bureaucratic slap in the face, if and when,"Computer says No!"

At the foot of this page we have links to the applications pages for local authorities that have already been posted, ahead of the applications going live and the central government guidance on potential grant payments.


The first online grant applications to go live, so far only cater for those businesses closed by law, with no sign as yet of the follow-up discretionary help for businesses that have seen a severe drop in demand in tier 2 and tier 3 areas, where they remain open. Each council is still scrambling to define its policy for those additional businesses and only then will make a form available, if funds stretch that far.


The issue is that over-stretched L.A. staff, will determine grant eligibility based on the category of business as it appears on the ratings list. However this listing is far from definitive confirmation that the business doesn't operate within the categories suggested by central government as the first priorities for L.A. support, namely leisure, hospitality, accommodation and B&B's.


As an example, many leisure businesses are closed by default and may now be denied support on a technicality.


Local travelling funfairs are a case in point. They have been closed down totally by circumstance, if not by law, from the beginning of the pandemic in March. They have no realistic hope of reopening, or sustaining themselves until spring 2021 and meanwhile the local councils will not give them a Covid secure risk assessment to operate.


Yet despite that, simply because their business rateable premises are generally categorised as storage rather than leisure for their rides and equipment, that whole sector could be ineligible for the LRSG as a consequence.

Many more businesses will fall into a grey area and a judgement of Solomon awaits the local authority policy makers, with limited funds available as they define eligibility. Common sense suggests that a discretionary category of Other, must be opened up as part of the application process and provide a fair chance for all and the answer to the application to be,"Computer says Yes!"



Local Restriction Support guidance to L.A.'s from government is :-


The LRSG will help businesses that due to the government's local or national restrictions: -


a) Businesses closed by law, that had an R.V. at the point of closure


b) Businesses still open with an R.V. categorised on the ratings list as Hospitality, Leisure, B&B’s and Accommodation and where demand is severely curtailed

due to local restrictions on socialising

Only then if funds remain from a discretionary 5 % top up fund from central government other business in associated categories where demand has been severely curtailed by local restrictions may be eligible.


BUSINESSES CLOSED BY LAW IN TIER 3 IN ENGLAND



RECOMMENDED GRANT LEVEL AND FREQUENCY


The amount you get depends on the rateable value of your premises.

You will receive support for every two weeks your business is closed, and this will be paid every two weeks that you are required to remain closed.


Rateable value and support per 2 weeks per 4 weeks

£15,000 or under £ 667 £1334


£15,001-£50,999 £1000 £2000


£51,000 or over £1500 £3000


You can find the rateable value of your premises on your latest business rates bill.


Who qualifies for this grant?


To qualify for this grant, your business must be have been:

  • open as usual before the restrictions.

  • providing services in person to customers from the premises.

  • required to close due to local lockdown restrictions imposed by government.

  • paying business rates for the premises at the point of closure

Businesses required to close under local restrictions - from 00:01 on Saturday 17 October

  • Pubs (can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant)

  • Bars, and nightclubs

From 00:01 on Monday 19 October, the following venues also closed:

  • Adult gaming centres

  • Bingo halls

  • Casinos

  • Bookmakers and betting shops

  • Children's soft play centres

  • Car boot sales

Your business will not qualify for support under this scheme if it was in administration, insolvent or a striking off order was made at the time local restrictions started.


OPEN BUT SEEING SEVERE FALLS IN DEMAND


The government is providing additional funding to allow Local Authorities to support businesses in High-Alert (Tier 2) level areas, which are not legally closed, but which are severely impacted by the restrictions on socialising.


Additional funding has been awarded to Lancashire, which will be used to support Hospitality, Hotel, B&B, and Leisure businesses which are not legally closed but are severely impacted by the restrictions on socialising.


Government suggested that support should follow these guidelines, though final decisions are made by each Local Authority dependent on their level of funding, the number of those business locally, along with the amount of any grant


Rateable value of premises per 2 weeks per 4 weeks


£15,000 or under £ 467 £ 934


£15,001-£50,999 £ 700 £1400


£51,000 or over £1050 £2100


Find your local authority here


Local Restriction Support Grant Application pages will be added as they go live here :-


Wyre

Preston City

Fylde

Lancaster

Ribble Valley

Blackburn with Darwen


Do state aid rules apply?

The Local Restrictions Support Grant counts towards state aid.

The rules are fully explained in the government state aid guidance. By accepting this grant, you must confirm that you are not in breach of these rules.

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