Top-up business fund a potential lifeline

Winchester & Chandler’s Ford MP Steve Brine says a new local business grant scheme offers a “lifeline” to local firms left out of previously announced Government schemes.

A new discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme.

£617 million will be made available to local authorities which tops up the £12 billion funding previously announced for the Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund and is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs.

Ministers have said they are asking local authorities 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.

Steve Brine MP says; “The existing scheme is extremely helpful but there are those left behind, either because they’re in a sector close to - but not directly - retail or because they pay rates as part of their rent to one landlord. The danger was, no matter how hard local authority staff have undoubtedly worked to get money out to local firms, the computer could ultimately say no.

“So the key to this additional fund is its’ discretionary nature and it makes clear local councillors may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need.. Many MPs have used our experience to lobby for this so it’s pleasing to see it come to pass and I hope local firms will be helped by it.”

To qualify, 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. There will be three levels of grant payments; the maximum will be £25,000.

Pictured; Steve Brine speaking in the House of Commons last week.

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Find out more on the new discretionary fund