The Department for Business, Energy, Innovation & Skills (BEIS) has confirmed a new £617million scheme to support businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders and small charity properties.
The move plugs a loophole, which meant small businesses in shared office space missed out on a £10,000 cash grant, which is part of the government’s package of Covid-19 support measures.
The new additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs.
Announcing the move, the government said: “A discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme.”
The new money is an additional five per cent uplift to the £12.33bn funding previously announced for the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF).
The government says it is asking local authorities to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates.
However, local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need. The allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities.
Businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income as a result of coronavirus restriction measures.
There will be three levels of grant payments. The maximum will be £25,000. There will also be grants of £10,000. local authorities will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. The Treasury says it will be for councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances.
The move follows a campaign by small businesses, angry at missing out on the original support scheme. A petition was signed by almost 12,000 business owners.
The government says that further guidance for local authorities will be set out shortly.