Discretionary business grants – start to open for applications
In April the government announced additional funding for local authorities to use for discretionary business grants. They have now provided sufficient detail for the local authorities to start opening up for grant applications. Below are the Norfolk local authority funding applications that are live now.
North Norfolk District Council
The North Norfolk Discretionary Grant Scheme is intended to support certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the earlier business grant funds scheme. The scheme is aligned with Government guidance which has stipulated a number of key conditions and sector priorities.
The Government have advised that grants should be primarily and predominantly aimed at:
- Small and micro businesses
- Businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs
- Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis
The Government have further stipulated that grant funding is for businesses that are not eligible for other support schemes. Businesses which are eligible for cash grants from any central government COVID-related scheme 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
The following business types are eligible to apply for this scheme:
- Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces. Examples could include mills, units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment;
- Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as pitch fees or storage costs, who do not have their own business rates assessment;
- Bed & Breakfasts which pay Council Tax instead of business rates; and
- Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.
- Businesses which are wholly involved in the hospitality, leisure and events industry but do not have a business premises open to visiting members of the public.
- Public Houses with a rateable value of £51,000 or higher
- Hotels with a rateable value of £51,000 or higher
- Day Nursery Premises
Businesses who do not fall within these categories will not be able to apply for this grant.
You will need to provide a number of supporting documents with your application. These documents are listed within the Grant Guidance. Please have these documents to hand before you commence the application form as you will require this information.
Breckland Council has secured additional funding of almost £1.5m from the Government, to help us address the needs of businesses which were not eligible under the original COVID-19 grant schemes. The original schemes are still in operation and cover businesses in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief and businesses eligible for Expanded Retail and Hospitality Relief (further details are available on our website.)
They want to make sure every penny of this is directed to businesses in greatest need, and as quickly as possible. However, they are aware the scale of demand may well outstrip the limited funds they have available.
Breckland will consider making grant awards to individual businesses under two separate award categories;
Category A: Government-Priority-Listed Businesses:
Specifically Bed and Breakfasts; Regular Market Traders; and businesses in shared spaces / flexible work spaces. Where a business can confirm their specific eligibility, they will make awards between £2,000 - £10,000 (depending upon the size of the business and the hardship experienced due to Coivd-19-imposed trading conditions). These awards will be made on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis. They anticipate starting to make payments from around the 5th June, or as soon as they are able to start confirming eligibility from applicants.
Category B: Small Businesses and Charities who have suffered significant hardship due to Covid-19 and are important to the local economy / local recovery.
They have deliberately set only limited minimum criteria for this category, based on government guidelines. This includes: businesses must be ‘small’; have business premises in Breckland; must have been trading on 11th March; and cannot be eligible for other Covid financial support. They will use the information supplied in the application to make a relative assessment of the hardship experienced, and the impact on the Breckland economy. They will then make grant awards of up-to £10,000 to as many of those in greatest need as possible, using whatever monies are left over after paying out the Government-priority-listed awards (category A).
In order to run the above programme, Breckland Council are limiting the window for grant applications from the 1st June to 23rd June (close of business). They will make their assessments using the above guidelines, and continually review as they progress.
Important Information – Please read before progressing
The Council will not accept deliberate manipulation and fraud. Any business caught falsifying their records to gain additional grant money will face prosecution and any funding issued will be subject to clawback.
Under the two categories set out above they will make specific eligibility / hardship checks, and require you to provide evidence to enable these.
However, all businesses must also meet the minimum eligibility criteria, by demonstrating all of the below:
- Occupying a business property, or part of a business property, within Breckland
- Having suffered a significant fall in income due to the Covid-19 crisis
- Are ‘small’ including employing fewer than 50 employees
- Were trading on the 11th March 2020 (and are not in administration, insolvent or where a striking-off notice has been made)
- Not being eligible for other for cash grants from any central government COVID-related scheme (apart from Self-Employed Income support scheme)
Unfortunately Breckland Council will not be able to provide grants beyond the total value made available to them by the Government (£1,433,750). This means they may have to end their application window early, if all of their available funds are committed through Government-Priority-Listed Businesses.
Breckland Council will have incredibly limited scope to consider ‘appeals’, likely only in areas of extreme manifest error, and the onus will be on applicants to ensure accuracy of information (they will not, for example, be in a position to query typos and form errors which may lead to ineligibility).
The application form will require you to upload documents to help evidence key criteria. You can save the form as you go along, but they recommend you assemble your key evidence before proceeding.
So far just North Norfolk and Breckland Council have gone live with their discretionary grant applications. Norfolk Chambers will update our website as soon as we hear from more Norfolk local authorities. We are aware that King’s Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council and Norwich City are also looking to open their schemes very shortly.