Updated: Small business grant funds and retail, hospitality and leisure grant fund

In response to the coronavirus pandemic the government has announced support for small businesses, and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure industries in the form of grants. These grants will be paid by local authorities.

Most businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors and those receiving Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief will receive a grant as follows:

  • Eligible properties* with a rateable value of £15,000 or less will receive a £10,000 grant
  • Eligible properties* with a rateable value of more than £15,000 and up to £51,000 will receive a £25,000 grant

*To be eligible for a grant companies and traders must have been liable for business rates on 11 March 2020. If this criteria is not met there is no entitlement to relief.  The council may prosecute any businesses making fraudulent claims.

Charities

Charities receiving Charitable Rate Relief can’t be eligible for Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief and therefore cannot be eligible under the Small Business Grants Fund. They may be eligible under the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Grants Fund.

Local Authority Small Business Discretionary Grant

The Government has now announced an additional fund to support small businesses that were not eligible for the earlier funds. This is called the Local Authority Small Business Discretionary Grant. Grants of up to £10,000 are available to small and micro businesses that need help with ongoing fixed building-related costs such as rent, utilities and broadband.

The discretionary grants are administered and allocated by Buckinghamshire Council who are working in partnership with Buckinghamshire Business First (BBF) who will handle the grant applications on behalf of Buckinghamshire Council who will check and process the grant payments.

We are reviewing further guidance we have had from the government in the form of revised eligibility for local businesses, and their response to a number of questions which were raised about this new grant. As a result this fund will now launch early next week (week commencing 1 June 2020).

For more information and to apply please visit the Buckinghamshire Business First website.

Initial evaluation under the criteria and outlined priorities will be undertaken by Buckinghamshire Business First, on behalf of Buckinghamshire Council.

Once your claim has been approved, you will receive payment from Buckinghamshire Council as promptly as possible, usually within five days.

Who can apply?

Businesses must be a small or micro business with under 50 employees as defined by the Companies Act 2006 and must have been trading on 11 March 2020.

Applicants must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to coronavirus restriction measures.

Who is eligible?

It is expected that demand for these grants will be exceptionally high, and as such, priority will be given to:

  • Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces. Examples could include units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators that do not have their own business rates assessment;
  • Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment;
  • Bed & Breakfasts that pay council tax instead of business rates; and
  • Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief that would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.

If your businesses is not on the above list, you may still apply and will need to supply evidence it falls into one of the following categories:

  • Businesses that occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000
  • Businesses that can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the coronavirus crisis
  • Businesses with fewer than 50 employees, turnover of not more than £10.2 million, and a balance sheet of not more than £5.1 million
  • Businesses that were trading on or before 11 March 2020

Who is not eligible?

Business that have received cash grants from any central government coronavirus-related scheme are ineligible for funding from the Discretionary Grants Fund.

Such grant schemes include, but are not limited to:

  • Small Business Grant Fund
  • Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant
  • The Fisheries Response Fund
  • Domestic Seafood Supply Scheme (DSSS)
  • The Zoos Support Fund
  • The Dairy Hardship Fund

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILS) are not counted as cash grants and so those that have received CBILS may still be eligible.

Businesses that have applied for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme are eligible to apply, as are businesses who are eligible for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

What can the grants be used for?

This fund is to help businesses with ongoing fixed building-related costs. Your grant claim could also include costs such as rent, utilities (water, heat and light) and broadband provision, but will not cover costs such as cleaners or IT equipment hire.

In order to support your claim, you will need to provide evidence of these costs. Examples of proof include:

  • a signed Lease Agreement
  • a signed Licence Agreement
  • a signed Rental Agreement
  • a signed Mortgage Agreement
  • recent utility bills
  • recent broadband bills

The fund will pay out up to £10,000 to cover a maximum period of six months. If your claim is higher than £10,000 for a six month period, the grant will cover some, but not all, of your costs.

For example, if your rent is £2,000/month, the grant would cover five of the six months. If your rent is less than £1,666 a month, the grant will cover six months of your rental costs.

Will my grant be taxed?

Yes, the grant will be subject to tax. However, businesses that make a loss this financial year will pay no tax on grants. Only profitable businesses will be taxed.

In addition, you will need to agree that any grant made will be subject to State Aid rules and that you comply.

Reporting a suspected fraudulent claim

If you suspect somebody of making a fraudulent claim for a business grant please report it via our fraud reporting form (link opens on the Wycombe Area site. Please use this form for all areas).