Release Date: 04 June 2020
Small businesses not eligible for the Government’s COVID-19 support grants or extended business rates relief, can now apply for a new ‘discretionary’ business fund to help them manage the impact of the pandemic. However, the Council warns that there may not be enough to go around.
The Government has stated that the funding is for small businesses that were trading on the 11th March 2020, with significant ongoing fixed property-related costs. 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.
But the Government has provided just £2.149m (5% of the funding made available for the original business grants scheme) to help these small and micro businesses who previously were not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Grant Fund.
Richmond Council estimates that there are 12,500 businesses in the borough that currently employ fewer than 10 employees and, whilst some of these will have accessed the earlier Government funding, many will not have been able to.
In order to provide meaningful size grants to all these businesses, the Council would need £50m to £100m.
Cllr Robin Brown, Lead Member for Finance and Resources at Richmond Council, said:
“I welcome that the Government has listened to the case that we have made that many borough businesses, through no fault of their own, were slipping through the net.
“However, the funding we have been allocated will not stretch far enough to cover all the needs of eligible businesses.
“We are inviting applications from many of our smaller businesses who missed out on support first time round. Realistically with the limited sum available to us grants will be lower than we would like and not every business can be included.
“It’s important that we support as many livelihoods and jobs as possible, particularly those connected to small independent businesses which don’t have a large financial support network. I hope that the Government rethink their funding package – otherwise I fear that many sound local businesses will struggle to survive this crisis through no fault of their own."
Due to the limited amount of funding available, the Council has been asked to develop further criteria of eligibility, based on local need. Therefore, for a strict period of 10 working days from 4 June 2020, the below businesses will now be invited to apply for grants:
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Updated: 30 June 2020