Discretionary Grant Funding

 

In response to the Coronavirus, COVID-19, the government announced there would be support for small businesses, and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, delivered through the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Grant Fund.

Additional funding was announced in May 2020 and is aimed at small businesses who were not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Fund. Government guidance can be viewed here

This guidance sets out the criteria that Boston Borough Council will apply to applications for the award of Discretionary Grant Funding to businesses operating within our area.

Section 1 of the Localism Act 2011 provides Boston Borough Council with the authority to make these payments.

 

Funding Allocation

The Government has provided Boston Borough Council with a total funding allocation of £798,500 to distribute to businesses in our area under this scheme.

 

Who will receive the funding?

 These grants are primarily and predominantly aimed at:

  1. Small and micro businesses, as defined in Section 33 Part 2 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 and the Companies Act
  2. Businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs
  3. Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis
  4. Businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000.

However, the Government has recognised that the need for economic assistance will vary across the country and has allowed local authorities some discretion to determine which kinds of businesses should receive discretionary business grant funding.

The following list is not exhaustive but Boston Borough Council will prioritise the following types of businesses for grants:

  1. Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces. Examples could include units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment;
  2. Regular market traders who reside within the borough with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment;
  3. Bed & Breakfasts which pay Council Tax instead of business rates;
  4. Businesses working from home who can demonstrate hardship as a result of the coronavirus outbreak;
  5. Charity properties with a rateable value less than £51,000 in receipt of charitable business rates relief; and
  6. Businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000, that also have both fixed property costs and have suffered a significant fall in income due to Covid-19.

 

Eligibility

In order to be eligible for funding from the Discretionary Grants Fund, businesses must not be eligible for funding from any other central government scheme with the exception of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).  Those that have applied for assistance under these schemes may apply for Discretionary Grant Funding.

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

Sectors which will be excluded from applying are:

  • Financial services
  • Medical services
  • Solicitors
  • Post office sorting offices
  • Primary agriculture

Your business must have been trading on 11 March 2020.

Companies that are in administration, are insolvent or where a striking-off notice has been made are not eligible for funding under this scheme.

In line with the Government guidance ratepayers with a rateable value of £51,000 or more are excluded from this scheme.

The Council reserves the right to vary the terms of the scheme at any time should it be necessary to do so.

How much will be paid?

The Charity sector will be very important to support the community (and the council) in the later phases of recovery from the virus, so it is proposed that awards to charities are made in the following way:

£10,000 – Charities in receipt of charitable business rate relief where the rateable value is up to or including £15,000

£25,000 – Charities in receipt of charitable business rate relief where the rateable value is above £15,000 but under £51,000

The smallest businesses are likely to require support to maintain viability, so it is proposed that awards to those in shared offices or flexible workspaces are supported by a specific sum:

£10,000 – Small businesses in shared offices or flexible workspaces 

In addition, it is proposed that for other types of business that are eligible, that the Council considers grants of:

Up to £10,000 – Regular market traders residing in the borough with fixed building costs.

Up to £10,000 – Bed & Breakfasts which pay Council Tax instead of business rates.

Up to £10,000 – Businesses working from home who can demonstrate hardship as a result of the coronavirus outbreak

Up to £10,000 – Businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000, that also have both fixed property costs and have suffered a significant fall in income due to Covid-19.

Only one grant will be paid per business regardless of the number of premises occupied.

The value of the grant awarded to a business will be based on the Council’s assessments of the fixed property costs and the loss in income it has suffered as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

The maximum grant payable is £25,000.

The decision of the Council is final.  There is no right of appeal.

 

Evidence Required

Businesses are required to submit evidence in order to verify their eligibility and to support their case for funding. The requirement for evidence is set out below and must be provided as part of your application.  Failure to do so will cause delay and may affect your eligibility for a grant payment.

  • Evidence that your business was trading at a location within the Borough of Boston on 11 March 2020 and verification of business details. We will require your Companies House/Charity Number and financial evidence as set out below;
  • Evidence of fixed property costs such as rent, rates or mortgage payments;
  • Evidence of turnover (sales) for the last financial year.  This may be in the form of filed accounts for the previous year, HMRC Tax Return or an accountants letter confirming turnover;
  • Evidence to demonstrate a substantial loss in income for the period 01.04.20 to 31.05.20 compared with the same period last year. This may be in the form of filed accounts for the previous year and bank statements for the current period and previous trading period;
  • For all businesses including the self-employed or sole trader the following are examples of the evidence that may be required;
  • proof of registration for tax and national insurance (NI) purposes with HMRC such as a letter of self-employed status/unique tax reference number or a letter confirming payment of tax and NI contributions/class;
  • HMRC tax return invoices for work done;
  • an accountant’s letter confirming the activity of the business and the profits achieved;
  • Insurance
  • Food Business Registration/Other licence references
  • Other evidence as relevant to the business and in order to demonstrate the case for funding

The information that you provide will be removed from the council’s webserver within 24 hours Mon-Friday and 72 hours Sat-Sun.  Copies of the information will then be stored in line with the council’s retention and disposal policy.

Tax and state aid

Grant income received by a business is taxable therefore funding paid under the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund will be subject to tax.

Although the United Kingdom left the EU on 31 January 2020, under the Withdrawal Agreement the State aid rules continue to apply during a transition period, subject to regulation by the EU Commission.

All applicants will be required to confirm they do not exceed state aid regulations if they receive a grant payment.

 

Fraud

Pre and Post Assurances checks will be made to ensure that grant monies are paid correctly.

Boston Borough Council will not accept deliberate manipulation and fraud – and any business caught falsifying their records to gain grant money will face prosecution and any funding issued will be subject to claw back, as may any grants paid in error.

By signing the final declaration of the application form you are confirming that all information provided is a true and accurate record.

 

How to apply

Following an initial exercise to encourage previous unsuccessful applicants to apply (as they have demonstrated concern/initiative) funds will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.  Once the allocation of funds is fully committed to qualifying businesses it will not be possible to make any further grants and the scheme will be closed.

If an application is incomplete and requires further information, please provide this promptly once we have contacted you.  Should the funding become fully committed whilst awaiting information, you will not receive any funding.

Documents used to support evidence of entitlement to a business grant must be uploaded in jpeg, jpg, png, docx or pdf format and be no larger than 5MB.

The Council is required to account for how it spends public funds. As such the Council will likely be required to publish or disclose upon request details of any amounts paid to you in respect of this application.  This will be necessary to meet the Council’s transparency obligations and the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Apply for Discretionary Grant Funding