Council launches local small business support scheme
Telford & Wrekin Council is launching the Discretionary Business Grants Fund to continue to support businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Council has received £1.47m from the Government for this fund, compared with an allocation of more than £35m for the first scheme.
Due to the limited value of this fund and government criteria outlined below, the Council expects though to have no discretion over who it awards payments to.
It also expects that far fewer borough businesses will be able to benefit from this new government funding scheme.
Small and micro businesses who have fallen through the net of the Government’s initial business support scheme can apply for this fund, but they will need to submit a new application, even if they have previously applied for a coronavirus business support grant and been rejected.
The scheme is not open to any business awarded a grant in the previous Small Business grant fund which opened in April and for which the Council has paid out more than £27m to over 2,300 businesses.
Other eligible small and micro businesses can apply, if they meet the criteria as directed by the government and outlined below.
Applications are now open and will close promptly at 5pm, Friday 29 May.
Eligible businesses can apply on www.telford.gov.uk/discretionarygrants
Government says this new scheme must apply the following criteria:
• The business must have relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs
• The business must be able to demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis
• The business has fewer than 50 employees
• The business was trading on 11 March 2020
• The business occupies property, or part of property, with a rateable value or annual rent / mortgage payments below £51,000
Government also says the Council must prioritise the following:
- Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces
Examples can include businesses / units on industrial parks and science parks and “incubator units” which do not have their own business rates assessment.
- Regular Market traders
With fixed ongoing building costs such as rent and who have a rental / lease agreement with the landlord.
- Bed and Breakfast accommodation
- Charity Properties
Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rate relief or Rural Rate Relief
Unfortunately, these criteria set by the Government are likely to exclude many borough-based manufacturers which form the backbone of Telford’s economy from the scheme.
Applications will be assessed during early June and the Council will work hard to get this essential support to eligible businesses as quickly as possible.
Decisions on the level of grants (set at either £25,000 or up to £10,000) will be made based on demand and fixed property costs (rent or mortgage payments).
Businesses applying will need to provide a copy of their lease / tenancy agreement, copies of bank statements, and details of accreditation (B&B’s only).
Cabinet Member for Council Finance and Governance, Councillor Rae Evans said: “This new scheme will open as a matter of urgency on Monday 25 May as there are many borough businesses desperate for help.
“However, we are deeply disappointed because the conditions set by Government and the limited value of the funding provided by Government, offers too little help to too few businesses. It feels like we’re being set up to fail.
“The Government’s criteria essentially leaves many manufacturers high and dry, while we expect applications to quickly outstrip the fund’s value, meaning that many businesses in real need will not get the help that they so badly require.
The Cabinet Member for Cabinet Member for Economy, Housing, Transport and Infrastructure, Councillor David Wright said: “We have no scope to support many companies who have come to us because they fall outside the parameters set by Government.
“When the Government announced its £617 million allocation for this on 2 May, we expected to receive a share of this, but initial indications are that only a handful of councils nationally will receive funding from this pot.
“Many businesses will be deeply disappointed either because they aren’t in one of the Government’s priority categories or, because of the fund’s value, we simply can’t provide the level of support they need to keep going.
“I will be urging our MPs to lobby for borough businesses who continue to fall through the cracks because the Government has made it nigh on impossible for us to support them.”
Details of the new fund will be published at www.telford.gov.uk/coronavirus