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Top-up to local business grant funds scheme
As you may be aware, the government has announced a top-up fund for local businesses which small businesses using shared space may be eligible for. The £617 million discretionary fund will be administered by local authorities. For those in workspaces in Whitehil & Bordon: East Hampshire District Council (EHDC).
We've been in touch with EHDC on behalf of our business community about this grant scheme to find out how the funds will be allocated. At this stage EHDC are waiting for more guidance from the government and there's only a limited amount of information available (most of it is already in the public domain.)
However, we have been asked to start collating the information required to "demonstrate that they [small businesses] have seen a significant drop of income due to Coronavirus restriction measures." As we are already working closely with the council, they have requested that local businesses in our community send your details and supporting information to us here at SiGNAL. We will then forward this to the Council as a matter of urgency.
Below is further information received from East Hants and also their reply to questions put forward by Andy Tree (Whitehill Town Council and SiGNAL Village resident.) As you will see it's not clear exactly who will be eligible at this stage, but it appears that it could be applicable to those resident at SiGNAL or leasing other shared space.
Please send your details and supporting information asap so we can move forward and be first in the queue. I suggest that an indication of your loss of income and monthly on-going property-related costs would be relevant. However, EHDC has not clarified what evidence they require so this is our suggestion only.

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Forwarded by East Hampshire District Council:

A discretionary fund, that will have up to £617 million available, has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme.

While the allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities, it is asked they prioritise 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.
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.
Further guidance for local authorities will be set out shortly.


Forwarded by Andy Tree (Whitehill Town Council):

Response to his questions to EHDC

  1. Can businesses/companies apply to EHDC as of now? If not, when? Final details have not yet been released from central government. As soon as they are and the scheme is ready to be rolled out, details will be posted here: and sent out to all of those interested parties who have signed up for the EHDC bulletins;
  2. How do you define "Businesses in shared spaces"? Central government has not yet defined 'business in shared spaces' or clarified whether this is indeed one of the discretions being left to local authorities. The initial announcement states that payment will be for 'ongoing fixed property-related costs', and local authorities will require a definition of that to enable them to set up the schemes;
  3. What must a business/company provide as evidence and is there an application form? Until local authorities have more information from central government, they are unable to ascertain what evidence will be required;
  4. How will you decide how much money a business/company can receive? The announcement specifies that local authorities can allocate grants of between £0 - £10,000 and £25,000. Until more information is provided, local authorities will not know how much discretion they have in allocating these payments;
  5. How soon can a business/company receive this money? Once the scheme has been put in place the application form will be able to indicate how quickly a decision will be made and therefore how quickly payments can be distributed

Copied below a press release from Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy:

Covid-19 Business Support Grants: Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund

Today the Government has announced that it is providing local authorities with additional funding to target small businesses with high fixed property-related costs but that are not eligible for the current grant schemes.

We are making an additional 5% uplift to the £12.33 Billion funding previously announced for the Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund, so up to £617 million, available to local authorities and we'll confirm the exact amount for each local authority next week.

We want local authorities to exercise their local knowledge and discretion and we recognise that economic need will vary across the country, so we are setting some national criteria for the funds but allowing local authorities to determine which cases to support within those criteria.

We are asking Local Authorities to prioritise the following types of businesses for grants from within this funding pot:

  1. Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible work spaces e.g. industrial parks, science parks, incubators etc, which do not have their own business rates assessment;
  2. Regular market traders who do not have their own business rates assessment;
  3. B&Bs which pay Council Tax instead of business rates; and
  4. Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.

The list set out above is not intended to be exhaustive, but it is intended to guide Local Authorities as to the types of uses that the Government considers should be a priority for the scheme. Authorities should determine for themselves whether particular situations not listed are broadly similar in nature to those above and, if so, whether they should be eligible for grants from this discretionary fund.

We also recognise that economic need will vary across the country, and so the precise design of the discretionary fund will be up to each local authority, and authorities are free to make payments to businesses outside of the above list.

We are setting some national criteria for the funds which must apply to all grants made from this Fund. These grants can only go to:

  • Businesses with ongoing fixed building-related costs
  • Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the Covid-19 crisis
  • Business with fewer than 50 employees
  • Businesses that were trading on or before 11th March.

In addition, businesses which are eligible for the existing grant schemes or Self-employed Income Support Scheme are ineligible.

Grants are capped at £25,000. The next 'tier' of grants is £10,000. Local Authorities have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. It will be for councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances.

Because this is a discretionary fund we expect local authorities will want to use an application process and that it may take some time for this to be established. At the same time, we know that there are businesses that need this funding and that local authorities understand this and will make every effort to make this process effective and quick.

We will provide local authorities with guidance on this new approach next week and alongside this we'll update information for businesses.

In taking this step, we've listened to feedback from many groups and recognised the opportunity to keep developing our business support at this critical time. Most importantly, this is an approach that has been suggested to us by local authorities and we hope that this step demonstrates that we have listened, and will continue to listen, to both business and our vital delivery partners.

Yours sincerely,

Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy