Assistance for businesses: Local authority and other grants available

Published by Andrew Tate  on 10 March 2021

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Last updated 7 April 2021

The Government has implemented a raft of measures to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these are being administered by the local authorities, as outlined below. Other organisations are also allocating funding to support local businesses and, in particular, charity and community groups. A selection of the assistance still available is covered below, as many of the previous grants managed by the local authorities have now closed.

Please note, grants from Local Authorities are subject to State Aid rules. A new subsidy allowance regime has been introduced for the coronavirus grants from 4 March 2021 (covered in further detail below), with grants made prior to this debate subject to the old rules.

For information on the new Recovery Loan Scheme, including how to apply, please visit our dedicated webpage.

Restart Grant Scheme

In the March budget, Rishi Sunak announced that an additional £5 billion in funding will be made available to businesses, via their local authorities, to help them to “re-start” once they are allowed to fully open in line with the government’s lockdown roadmap.

The new Restart Grants allow non-essential retailers to apply for grants of up to £6,000 per premises, whilst hospitality venues, hotels, gyms, personal care and leisure businesses may be eligible for grants of up to £18,000 per premises.

Your business may be eligible if it is:

  • based in England
  • rate-paying
  • in the non-essential retail, hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care or gym sectors
  • trading on 1 April 2021

To apply, please visit the website of your local authority. 

Business rates relief

Businesses in the retail, leisure, childcare and hospitality industries have been eligible for a business rates holiday from 1 April 2020, regardless of their rateable value. Local authorities have recalculated bills that should have been sent to all eligible businesses. If any businesses believe they are eligible and have not received a revised bill, they should contact their local authority.

Following the March 2021 Budget announcement, eligible businesses will continue to receive 100% relief in the period from April through to June and will receive 66% relief for the period from July to March 2022. A new Business Rates relief fund of £1.5 billion for businesses affected by COVID-19 outside the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors has also been established to provide targeted support. For further information, please contact your local authority.

Business rates relief for public houses has also been increased to £5,000 for the 2020/21 financial year.

For detailed guidance on whether your business qualifies for business rates relief, please refer to the Government’s guidance on eligibility.

New Subsidy allowance rules

The Government has introduced a new domestic subsidy allowance for the COVID-19 business support grants, replacing the EU State Aid/WTO rules that would have applied.  This took effect on 4 March 2021 with applications for grants made prior to that date still remaining subject to the previous rules. This is a welcome move with the previous lack of guidance and clarity creating a raft of uncertainty, particularly for larger businesses.

This scheme is covered by 3 subsidy allowances:

  • Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance – businesses are allowed up to £335,000 (subject to exchange rates) over any period of 3 years
  • COVID-19 Business Grant Allowance – businesses are allowed up to £1,600,000
  • COVID-19 Business Grant Special Allowance – if a business has reached its limits under the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance and COVID-19 Business Grant Allowance, it may be able to access a further allowance of funding under these scheme rules of up to £9,000,000, provided certain conditions are met

Grants under these 3 allowances can be combined for a potential total allowance of up to £10,935,000 (subject to exchange rates).

Kent and Medway Business Fund

Kent County Council operates a Kent and Medway Business Fund (KMBF) loan scheme. They also launched two new loan schemes in response to the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. The schemes are available to help businesses to recover and return to growth, and the funds can be used for working capital (KMBF Recovery Loan) and capital investment (KMBF Capital Growth Loan). All the funds operate as 0% interest loan schemes and the loans are for between £50K to £100K for the two new loan schemes and between £100K-£500K for the original KMBF scheme.

Whilst these loan schemes are currently closed to new applications, they may re-open in the near future.

For further information, please visit the Kent County Council website.

East Sussex County Council

East Sussex County Council has various grant programmes available. For the full list see their website.

East Sussex Invest 7 fund is one such programme designed to support the local economy and create jobs. It is delivered by the County Council in partnership with Locate East Sussex. The fund offers grants and loans for capital investment to stimulate business growth and job creation in the county. These include:

  • Grants from £10k to £25k – require minimum match funding of 60%
  • Loans from £10k to £200k – require minimum match funding of 50% and have an arrangement fee of £500 which may be added to the loan on request.
  • There is an additional grant of £1.5k for a new accredited apprentice position. This is a one off payment with no match or evidence of spend required; it is limited to one per successful application.

Businesses are required to apply for all Covid-19 business funding they are eligible for prior to applying to this fund.

Sustainable Innovation Fund

The Sustainable Innovation Fund has been announced by Government to help support innovative businesses to bounce back from the impact of coronavirus. The £200 million package is being delivered through Innovate UK and will help companies keep their cutting-edge projects and ideas alive. There are various support packages available and more information is available at Innovate UK.

Sussex Community Foundation Crisis Fund

The Sussex Community Foundation has launched a similar crisis fund for charities and community groups in Sussex. Initially, grants were made up to £5,000 to assist with needs emerging as a result of the pandemic, including organisation running costs. The fund is currently focusing on groups who are responding to the immediate crisis in the community. The Fund is currently paused for new applications whilst the amount of funding remaining to be distributed is determined. Funding for food security and emergency food programmes is, however, still being allocated. Further information is available on their website.

Arts Council England

Arts Council England have made £160 million of emergency funding available for organisations and individuals in the cultural sector and have also changed the funding requirements for individuals and organisations currently in receipt of their funding. Further information is available from Arts Council England.

For further information on the grants available, please speak with your usual Kreston Reeves contact, myself, Mike Collins or Caitlin Powell.

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