The cash grants proposed by Government are only for businesses in receipt of the Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Relief, or for particular sectors. Many small businesses fall outside these reliefs desperately need cash grants and support now.
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This needs to be made immediately available by every means possible.
Small businesses are dying by the day and jobs are being lost. We need fast, easy access to cash grants for small businesses enabling them to survive COVID-19.
Time is of the essence. Government needs to do more for small businesses, not just the current proposals.
Grant distribution can be done faster. We need to use all resources available.
Friday 29th May 2020
The business grants schemes are helping many thousands of small businesses and are just one part of the Government’s unprecedented package of support for business during the Covid-19 crisis.
The Government recognises that this is a very challenging time for businesses in a wide variety of sectors. Small businesses facing high fixed property-related costs are in particular need of support because they are less likely than larger businesses to have sufficient cash reserves to see them through the Covid-19 crisis. The Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund are designed to help the smallest businesses, as well as small businesses in sectors which have been especially hard hit by the decline in customer footfall which has taken place since social distancing measures were introduced. The grants schemes are already helping thousands of small businesses in these situations: as of 11th May, over £9.1 billion worth of grants have been paid to over 742,000 business premises.
The Government is aware that some small businesses have found themselves excluded from the existing business grants schemes because of the way they interact with the business rates system. That is why the Government has allocated up to an additional £617 million to Local Authorities to enable them to give discretionary grants to businesses in this situation. The Government has published detailed guidance on how Local Authorities should administer the Discretionary Grants Fund. The Government’s intention is for Local Authorities to prioritise the following types of business when making discretionary grants: small businesses in shared offices or other flexible work spaces such as industrial parks, science parks, incubators etc, which do not have their own business rates assessment; regular market traders who do not have their own business rates assessment; B&Bs 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.
Local Authorities may choose to focus payments on those priority groups which are most relevant to their local areas. Local Authorities may also choose to pay grants to businesses outside of these priority groups, according to local economic need, so long as the business was trading on 11th March, and has not received any other cash grant funded by central Government.
Businesses will need to apply to their Local Authority in order to receive grants. Each Local Authority will need to create their own process, and should look to do so as quickly as possible. We encourage businesses to look out for their Local Authority’s version of this scheme, and to contact their Local Authority for more information in due course.
The priority of all business grants schemes continues to be to help the smallest businesses, and small businesses which are facing significant property-related costs and operate in sectors which have been particularly hard hit by the steep decline in customer footfall.
Businesses which can’t receive business grants should be able to benefit from other measures in the Government’s generous package of support for business, including: a twelve-month business rate holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure properties, regardless of their size; an option to defer VAT payments by up to twelve months; the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, which will ensure that small and micro businesses can quickly access loans of up to £50,000 which are 100% guaranteed by the Government; the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, now extended to cover all businesses including those which would be able to access commercial credit; the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, to support businesses with their wage bill; and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, to provide support to the self-employed.