Assistance for businesses: Local authority and other grants available

Published by Andrew Tate  on 5 November 2020

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Last updated 5 November 2020

The Government has announced further measures to support businesses through the local “tier restrictions” and the second national lockdown announced. Some of these will be administered by the local authorities, as outlined below. Other organisations are also continuing to allocate funding to support local businesses and, in particular, charity and community groups. A selection of the assistance available is covered below, but please note, funding from different sources does change as funding bodies react to the ever changing crisis.

Business grants

In the first lockdown, local authorities administered grants of up to £25,000 to eligible businesses who either qualified for ‘Small business’ or ‘Rural rates’ relief, or for certain businesses within the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.

Renewed but reduced grant funding for businesses having to close due to the Tier 3 restrictions or the national lockdown announced on 31 October and which operate “in person services” are available.  The amount depends on the rateable value of the property occupied.  The funding ranges from £667 to £1,500 for a 14 day period depending on the rateable value of the property occupied.

Please note that these grants are not available to businesses which are deemed not to depend on person to person services.   This includes accountants and lawyers.   The grants are also not available to businesses which choose to close but are not required to by law.

Pubs and restaurants which still provide takeaway services are still eligible for these grants as their main business has had to stop.

If any businesses believe they are eligible for a grant but have not yet received it, they should contact their local authority.

Please also note that grants are taxable.

Grants for equipment, professional, legal and finance advice

On 30 July 2020, the Government announced grants of between £1000 – £5000 for businesses to access specialist professional advice such as HR, accountants, legal, financial, IT and digital, and to purchase technology or other equipment to adapt or adopt new technology in order to continue operating business activity or diversify.

The grants are fully funded by the Government and will be distributed via local Growth Hubs in England.

Business rates relief

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

Kent and Medway Business Fund

Kent County Council has re-opened their Kent and Medway Business Fund (KMBF) loan scheme. They’ve 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.

East Sussex County Council

East Sussex County Council has various grant programmes available.

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 was 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.

Kent Community Foundation (KCF) Coronavirus Emergency Fund

Kent Community Foundation is supporting charities and community groups facing financial difficulties or closure with the KCF Coronavirus Emergency Fund. Applications are open for grants of up to £10,000 from charities with an annual income of £200,000 or less, to assist charities through the financial implications caused by the pandemic.

The KCF Coronavirus Emergency Fund initially gave priority to applications from charities supporting isolated older-people. Whilst applications had closed for a few weeks, they have now reopened. Further information, including eligibility criteria and information on the application process, is available on their website.

Sussex Community Foundation Crisis Fund

The Sussex Community Foundation has launched a similar crisis fund for charities and community groups in Sussex. Initially, grants will be 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 current round for applications has a deadline of 11 September 2020. Further information is available on their website.

Arts Council England

Arts Council England are making £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. Applications will open soon for Round 1 (10 – 21 August) and further information is available from Arts Council England.

Facebook Small Business Grants Program

Facebook are offering £100 million in cash grants and ad credits for businesses in over 30 countries, including the UK. Applications  are not yet open, but is set to become available in the coming weeks.

Basic criteria will include:

  • Have between 2 and 50 employees
  • Have been in business for over a year
  • Have experienced challenges due to COVID-19
  • Be in or near a location where Facebook operates

Heritage Fund

Heritage Fund are offering grants of between £10,000-£3million to heritage organisations in England from the £92million Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage. This will support organisations across the heritage ecosystem that were financially sustainable before COVID-19, have exhausted all other financing options, and are now at risk of failure. The funding must be spent by the end of this financial year, 31 March 2021, and the deadline for applications is 12pm Monday 17 August. Further information is available on their website.

Local Authority Discretionary Grant Funds

Until 15 June 2020, businesses could also apply for grants under the Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund to the value of £25,000, £10,000 or any amount under £10,000. Applications for these grants have now closed.

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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