We have been informed that a new discretionary grant support scheme will open to South Lakeland businesses on Monday, 1 June.
Central government has made additional funding available to district, borough and city councils to provide further grants to businesses which have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Councils in Cumbria, including South Lakeland, have been working together since the initial announcement of the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund to develop a shared approach to ensure any schemes offered are coherent throughout Cumbria.
The initial guidance provided by Government excluded those businesses that were eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, but through continued local and national representation by councils and partners, the criteria of the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund was amended on 23 May to include these businesses.
Although each of the councils in Cumbria has been provided with differing sums of finance, the intention has been clear from each council and its elected members that the aim must be to support the largest number of businesses possible, whilst still following the Government’s guidelines.
Government has set down key criteria for businesses to be able to access the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund.
Eligible businesses must:
• Have been trading on 11 March 2020
• Have not have been eligible or received a grant from the existing Covid grant schemes or other support schemes (excluding the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme).
In addition to the eligibility criteria, Government has said that the grants are aimed at the following businesses:
• Small or 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 cr sis
• Businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000 (where a rateable value exists this will be the figure used).
The guidance on the fund has set down that the grants can be allocated in amounts of £25,000, £10,000 or the local authority has discretion on any amounts it wishes to provide under £10,000.
Given the limited funding being made available it is unlikely that any of the councils will award many, if any, grants of £25,000 as this would quickly deplete the available fund and may mean a larger number of businesses going without much-needed money.
A spokesperson on behalf of the Cumbrian councils said: “We are genuinely grateful that central government has enabled local councils to support their areas with further business grants. In Cumbria alone, we have provided grants totalling more than £160 million since the pandemic struck.
“It’s also reassuring to know that Government has listened and acted upon our and our partners’ calls to include those businesses who may have not met the criteria for the scheme. Initially ruling out those who were eligible for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme could have led to many of our most affected businesses missing out through no fault of their own.
“Unfortunately, we realise that a number of businesses may still not be eligible and the money provided won’t support all those in need. We will continue talking to Government to ensure Cumbrian businesses get the vital help they need.”
In South Lakeland online applications for the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund will open at midday on Monday, 1 June.
Applications will be open for a full two weeks and applicants will need to submit their application before midday on Monday, 15 June. Applications will close at this point.
Once the two-week window has closed, applications will be assessed with funding prioritised and paid out to businesses as soon as possible.
For more information about the scheme in South Lakeland and to check eligibility criteria see their website: https://www.southlakeland.gov.uk/business-and-trade/coronavirus-covid-19-business-support-grants/
Details of the discretionary business grants guidance issued by central government to local authorities can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-business-support-grant-funding