Devon councils launch new Discretionary Grant Fund to support businesses not eligible for the COVID-19 grant schemes
A new Government Discretionary Grant aimed at supporting small businesses launches on 1st June and will be administered by local district councils.
Following further Government announcements, Devon councils have quickly organised to launch an additional package of funding aimed at helping small and micro businesses. Importantly, this includes all those that have not been eligible for any other grant, with the exception of the furloughed Job Retention Scheme and the self‐employed income support scheme, and who were trading on 11th March 2020.
One of the key criteria for eligibility is businesses who have high ongoing fixed property-related costs, and who can show that they have suffered a major fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Grants will range from £1,000 to £25,000 but it is expected that the vast majority of grants awarded will be below £10,000, as this is a much smaller scheme than the previous one. All businesses are required to meet the same evidence based tests of need and the following business types will be prioritised for funding support, in line with Government requirements:
- small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces;
- regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment;
- bed and 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.
Each local council also has the discretion to extend their grants to business sectors in their area, which they feel need additional support in the interim, for instance tourism sectors within Devon. Check your local council’s website for information on the business types prioritised in your area.
Those not eligible for funding under this scheme include:
- Small businesses with a turnover of more than £10.2 million, balance sheet of more than £5.1 million and more than 50 staff
- Micro businesses with a turnover of more than £632,000, balance sheet of more than £316,000 with more than 10 staff
- Businesses who were not trading on 11th March 2020
- Businesses currently in administration or insolvent
- Businesses whose property rent, mortgage payments and rateable value is above the threshold of £51,000
Cabinet Member for Finance, Cllr Alex White, said:
“The Council has already paid out more than £17 million in grant funding to local businesses and we hope this funding will support some of those who were not eligible under the first scheme. We want to pay the money as soon as practical, so please ensure that all information entered online is completed very carefully so that there’s no delays in the process.”
Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration, Cllr Graeme Barnell, said:
“While this new scheme will not support every business, I’m pleased that it will help out many firms in Mid Devon which previously fell through the gaps of earlier funding packages. We want to support as many as our local businesses as we can to help them through this crisis and support the Mid Devon economy.”
The councils are anticipating high demand for funding and therefore, to ensure the money is shared fairly, they will be accepting applications in three separate sections. Businesses which are not successful within each of the sections, will be rolled forward for another chance until all the funds have been allocated.
Applications are open on the councils’ website from Monday, 1st June, with the first grants being paid on the 15th June. The second and third segments will then follow at two weekly intervals.
The councils will be checking all claims against previously approved grants, data held on file and with HM Revenue and Customs records. Any business caught falsifying their records to gain grant money will face prosecution and any funding issued will be reclaimed.
If a business believes it fits the criteria stated, they can apply for funding via their council’s website.
It is advised that supporting documents are to hand before starting the application, including bank statement for March this year, latest set of accounts, HMRC Self-assessment with a cash flow forecast. If applicable, a Tenancy Agreement may also be required.
The councils’ grant teams will be working as quickly as possible to process the claims and will therefore not be able to respond to each business with individual updates. They ask for patience in advance and wish to assure businesses that they will get back to them as soon as possible.
Care should be taken when entering details, especially figures; incorrect information provided could significantly delay processing of a grant application. This includes entering bank account numbers – discretionary grants will not be paid twice due to incorrect bank details being provided and the grant may not be received at all if the original payment cannot be reclaimed.
If any businesses in Mid Devon think they fit the stated criteria, they can apply for funding via middevon.gov.uk/COVID19DiscretionaryGrantFund. Alternatively, they can email firstname.lastname@example.org.