Christina Nawrocki FCCA, details the Small Business Grant Fund and how many are missing out when they are eligible to make a claim.
The Small Business Grant Fund is one of many measures that make up the government's £330bn support for businesses and it's unusual in that it's accessible through local authorities.
Unfortunately because of flaws in the way it has been set up and promoted, many small enterprises think they're unable to make claims. So whilst a great idea in concept, the eligibility criteria that has been published has left many thinking they're unable to take advantage of a scheme that was specifically designed to help them!
Also, there seems to be a misconception that you have to pay rates to qualify. You do not have to pay rates you simply have to be registered and claiming small business rates relief. This can mean paying nothing.
What is the Small Business Grant Fund?
The Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) offers a one-off £10,000 grant to firms that are eligible for small business rate relief. The idea being this would help such firms continue trading through a drop in sales as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The eligibility criteria
If you're running a business and have premises that aren't in the ineligible sectors (listed below) we would encourage you to make an application. You can do this either by calling your local authority or filling in the online application form which is prominent on most council websites.
The following types of businesses aren't considered to be retail and are therefore excluded from the scheme.
Financial services - banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, payday lenders, betting shops, and pawn brokers
Other services - estate agents, letting agents, and employment agencies
Medical services - vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, and chiropractors
Professional services - solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers, and tutors
Post office sorting offices
Unless you are operating in the above its worth making an application. SmallBusiness.co.uk have provided a useful table of all the local authorities, their allocation of funding and the links on their websites to the relevant pages.
One sector that is eligible and may not realise it, are those running furnished holiday let properties in the UK. If you have registered your property and claim small business rates relief you should qualify for the grant.
The top-up fund
Many smaller businesses operate from properties where the landlord handles business rates and the tenant pays a single payment covering rent and rates. This has left some businesses thinking they're unable to claim the grant from their local council because a qualifying condition is you have to claim business rates relief directly.
The Independent had reported that there were 1.16 million micro businesses in the UK but only around 720,000 properties liable for business rates relief. This meant half a million businesses were potentially missing out.
In response to this the Chancellor has also set up a top-up fund of £617m. This is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs that fall outside of the SBGF. Again, local authorities are to prioritise the following at their discretion based on local economic need:
Businesses in shared spaces
Bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates
Small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief
The content of this post was created on 07/05/2020 and updated on 29/05/2020.
Please be aware that information provided by this blog is subject to regular legal and regulatory change. We recommend that you do not take any information held within our website or guides (eBooks) as a definitive guide to the law on the relevant matter being discussed. We suggest your course of action should be to seek legal or professional advice where necessary rather than relying on the content supplied by the author(s) of this blog.