SMALL businesses including market traders and charities which initially missed out on government funding to cover property costs are eligible for grants of up to £25,000 each.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has added an extra £617m to funding already available to firms in England via the small business grants fund (SBGF) and the retail, hospitality and leisure grants fund (RHLGF), which are together worth £12.3bn.
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The money is intended to cover the cost of running a property while a business is closed during the UK lockdown.
In total, the government said around one million businesses will benefit from some help from the three schemes.
As of this week, £9.1bn in grants has already been paid out to 742,000 business properties via the SBGF and RHLGF schemes, and the top-up fund.
But how do you get your hands on the money?
Am I eligible?
In order to qualify for the original schemes, businesses have to pay business rates on their properties and have a so-called ‘rateable value’ of less than £51,000.
The rateable value is an amount calculated by the government’s Valuation Office Agency which is linked to how much rent the property fetches.
But an extra £617m of top-up cash has been made available for businesses which fall outside of the original criteria.
This includes businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, canal-based businesses and small charity properties, as well as bed and breakfasts that pay council tax and not business rates.
Because these businesses aren’t registered for business rates, they initially missed out on the funding.
But the new pot of money can be used for any “ongoing fixed property-related costs”, the government said.
In order to qualify, businesses must be small, employ less than 50 people, and must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to coronavirus restriction measures.
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How much will I get?
In the original schemes, a payout of £10,000 is available to businesses operating out of premises that have a rateable value of up to £15,000.
Companies in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 can apply for a £25,000 grant.
Businesses who fall outside of the original criteria but qualify for the top-up pot can receive one of three amounts.
The maximum is £25,000, and there are also grants of £10,000.
Local authorities also have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000.
Businesses that must remain closed
WHILE the Government is encouraging some to return to work, it says the following businesses and venues are required by law to stay closed to the public:
- Restaurants and cafes, other than for takeaway
- Pubs, cinemas, theatres and nightclubs
- Clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets not selling food
- Libraries, community centres, and youth centres
- Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, gyms, arcades and soft play facilities – although outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts, golf courses and bowling greens, will be allowed to reopen from May 13
- Some communal places within parks, such as playgrounds and outdoor gyms
- Places of worship (except for funerals)
- Hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use, excluding use by those who live in them permanently, those who are unable to return home and critical workers where they need to for work
Food retailers, food markets, and hardware stores can remain open, while garden centres and certain other retailers can reopen from May 13.
How do I apply?
Small businesses must apply for the grants through their local authority, which is in charge of all the administration for business rates.
Firms can find which local authority to apply through here.
Each local authority has been given a particular amount of money from the top-up fund to spend on businesses in its area depending on its size and population.
It has to choose how that money is spent – and once it’s gone, it’s gone.
What if I’ve already applied for other help?
Because this money is specifically aimed at covering property costs, you might still qualify even if you have accessed other funding.
But your local authority will look into each case before making a final decision – and it’s up to them who gets the money.
That means they may choose to give it to someone who hasn’t managed to get any other financial support.
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Community businesses that have taken a hit can also now apply for grants of up to £25,000 from a new £12m pot of cash set up by a charitable trust.
Last month it was reported that just 2 per cent of small businesses had received coronavirus loans – and thousands risk going bust.
And one in three small businesses say they might never reopen after lockdown.
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