Sedgemoor District Council has announced plans for distributing money from the discretionary fund set up by the Government to help certain small businesses that fell outside the scope of the original support provided at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown. The Discretionary Grant Scheme will be opened for a two-week application period on Tuesday, 26th May and will close at 12 noon on Tuesday, June 9th. Town Council Business Spokesman Cllr Mick Lerry has been talking to businesses to urge them to apply if they think the grant could work for them.
Cllr Lerry explains “The scheme is aimed at small and micro businesses who don’t always pay business rates but still incur high fixed building costs, for example those in shared spaces like an enterprise centre or those that pay a rent inclusive of business rates. The Government’s guidance recognises the need to support charities, B&B owners and regular market traders. Councils were also given discretion to pay other businesses based on local economic need, which differs across communities and areas.”
Criteria that still have to be met are that the businesses employ fewer than 50 people and can demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop in income due to Coronavirus restriction measures.
A Sedgemoor Spokesperson said “We have been able to pay grants to a significant number of local businesses badly affected by the virus and subsequent lockdown, we have also had to turn down many who failed to meet the criteria. This new discretionary grant will mean that we can broaden the approach to encompass some more of our hard hit companies but we do recognise that it still leaves many who will have to look to other means of surviving during this difficult time.”
How to Apply
Sedgemoor has drafted an application form, which is now live on its website and is inviting businesses to see whether they might qualify for the new support. It is inevitable that applications will outstrip the funds so a panel will assess the applications to see how closely they fit the government’s parameters.
For guidance, eligibility criteria and more information visit www.sedgemoor.gov.uk/discretionarygrants
Cllr Lerry says “Even if your businesses does not fit the criteria, Sedgemoor’s business team will do their best to advise on the other forms of support that are available. The purpose of this fund is to provide additional support for some of those small businesses not covered by the current schemes. The new fund is the result of feedback to Ministers given by District Councils and business organisations, who highlighted gaps in existing grant schemes which meant some small businesses were missing out.”
- The Government has stated that allocation of funding will be at the discretion of Local Authorities.
- Sedgemoor District Council will be paying out a maximum of £25,000 per application.
- There is a finite amount of money available, and a time limit imposed for applications.
- Here are the timescales for Sedgemoor:
Applications open: Tuesday 26th May 2020 at 9am
Applications close: Tuesday 9th June 2020 at 12 noon
- Businesses should start to receive payments during w/c 15th June 2020.
- This fund is aimed at small and micro businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs.
- Local Authorities are being asked to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax, rather than business rates.
To benefit, businesses will need to meet strict criteria, including:
- Businesses must have less than 50 employees
- Businesses must have been trading prior to 11th March 2020, and have evidence of this
- The business must occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000
- Local Authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need.