Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a new £4.6 billion grant programme. With the UK now in its third national lockdown, he intends to provide some much-needed support to businesses.
Since March 2020, businesses have endured months closed, followed by a cycle of reopenings and closures.
Hundreds of thousands of firms - many now struggling with increasing debts - have seen profits sink over the last 10 months. These same businesses now face another seven weeks of Government-enforced lockdown. As a result, the Treasury is offering one-off top-up grants of up to £9,000 per property for those forced to close. This new aid package has also extended local authorities' discretionary grants. This provides financial support to businesses who are not eligible for top-up grants.
Below, we outline who is eligible for the new top-up and discretionary grants, and how business owners can apply.
How do I know how much top-up grant my business is entitled to?
The new grants are open to the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors. To be eligible, your business must have physical premises and have to close from 6th Jan '21 until at least mid-Feb '21.
The amount offered to each business owner will be based upon the level of business rates usually paid by a site. As a rough guide, these are some estimated figures based on rateable values:
Small businesses (with a rateable value of up to £15,000) will be able to claim up to £4,000
Medium-sized businesses (with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000) will be eligible for up to £6,000
NEW: Large businesses (with a rateable value of more than £51,000) will be eligible for grant support. Thus far, businesses of this size have not been able to claim financial aid. They will be eligible for up to £9,000
How do I apply for the new top-up grant?
All businesses need to apply for a grant through their local authorities. To find your local authority's website and contact information, search your postcode here.
Find your local council's website: https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council
The new funds will be given to councils to distribute to businesses. This mirrors the structure of grant support provided in November, during the second lockdown. The Treasury has stated that the process for the new top-up grants is being run through the same system implemented to give out the Local Restrictions Support Grants offered in November. It is hoped that this will help expedite the financial aid process.
I am not eligible for a top-up grant, but I still have to close for lockdown and/or am impacted and need support. How can I get help?
The Chancellor has also announced a new £594 million discretionary fund. This is available to businesses impacted by the latest lockdown, even if they are not eligible for the top-up grants.
The Government have asked local authorities to prioritise the following types of businesses for grants from within this funding pot:
Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces. e.g. units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment
Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment
Bed & Breakfasts that pay Council Tax instead of business rates
Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief
The list above is not intended to be exhaustive, but is intended to guide local authorities as to the types of business that the government considers should be a priority for the scheme.
Businesses will need to apply to their local authority to request support. You can find your local council's information by searching your postcode here.
A key difference between these funds and the top-up grants is that they are discretionary. This means that the local councils decide which businesses are allocated funds.
What information will I need to make an application?
To apply for grants, business owners will need to provide information including:
- A Passport or Driving License
- A Business Rates Account Number (if relevant)
- A VAT Registration Number
- A Company Registration Number
- A Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR)
- Copies of Business Account Bank Statements If you need support in making your application or in managing your business' finances during this time, please contact us to discuss how we can help.
Is the top-up grant or discretionary fund the only support available to businesses to get through this lockdown?
No. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is still in place until April, and the 100% business rates relief measure is in place until March 31. Hospitality businesses also have VAT relief measures until the end of March.
The Chancellor has not ruled out also extending the business rates relief offering beyond March 31.