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

The Business Secretary Alok Sharma and Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke spoke to local authorities in England recently to set out that up to £617 million would be made available as an additional 5% uplift to the £12.33 billion funding previously announced for the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF).

This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. Local authorities will be prioritising 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. But local authorities may choose to make additional discretionary payments to other businesses based on local economic need.

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. There will also be grants of £10,000. local authorities will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. It will be for councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances. Businesses which are eligible for the existing grant schemes, e.g. the Small Business Grant and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grants or the Self-employed Income Support scheme will not be eligible for a Discretionary grant.

Further information on this and details of how to apply should be found with each local authority shortly.

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