Second COVID discretionary business grant programme policy and guidance

Updated: 06.01.21 09:11

This policy and guidance sets out the national context, local criteria and information required for those businesses intending to apply to the Council’s COVID Discretionary Business Grants Programme.

This programme is aligned with the Government’s additional restrictions grant guidance issued to local authorities.

Scope and eligibility

Discretionary Grants awarded by the Council will predominantly support the following:

  • Businesses, which as a result of national restrictions (such as Tier 4), have been required to close by law, but who do not qualify for a Support Grant administered by the Council’s Business Rates team (see Business Grants section of Council websitefor further information and how to apply). This will focus on businesses who fall outside of the Business Rates system, such as those who operate within shared accommodation and who do not have their own Business Rates assessment.
  • Businesses which, while not legally required to close, can demonstrate that they are severely impacted as a result of national restrictions. This could include – for example – businesses which operate within or supply to the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors, businesses in the events sector, or businesses which have been severely impacted by the wider economic downturn.

Eligible businesses applying to the Council’s Discretionary Business Grant Programme must be able to evidence that the business was trading on the first full day of national restrictions.

Companies that are in administration, insolvent or where a striking-off notice has been issued against it are not eligible to apply for this grant.

Council approach

The Council expects local business demand for grant support from this programme to outstrip the funding made available by Government.

To help manage and assess the overall level of business demand for grant support, the Council will operate application windows. As a result of the new national restrictions in November 2020, the Council’s Discretionary Business Support Programme was open for applications, via the Council’s website, from 16 November and closed on midnight 2 December 2020.

Following the implementation of Tier 4 restrictions on the 31st December 2020, the Council will re-open the Programme for applications until midnight 17th January 2021.

Grant applications must be made online via the Business Grants section of the Council’s website.

Approved payments will be made to business accounts by BACS transfer.

Further calls for applications will be announced and published on the Council’s website, subject to available funding support for this programme and/or changes to national/local restrictions.

Grant values

Eligible businesses which do not have a Business Rates assessment and have been mandated to close as a result of the restrictions, will receive a grant payment of either £667, £1,000 or £1,500 covering each 14-day period of restrictions, in-line with the Government’s guidance to local authorities. The grant amount will be primarily determined by the level of fixed property costs. Further payments may be made subject to available funds and any changes to national restrictions.

Eligible businesses which are still open but can demonstrate that they have been severely impacted by the national restrictions will receive a grant payment of either £467, £700 or £1,050 covering each 14-day period of restrictions, in-line with the Government’s guidance to local authorities. The grant amount will be primarily determined by the premises rateable value and/or the level of fixed property costs.

Additional discretionary payments may be made to either closed or open businesses, in-line with the amounts detailed above, subject to available funds and any changes to national or local restrictions.

Only in exceptional circumstances will consideration be given to grant funding requests outside of the parameters set out in this guidance, subject to business case. The Council also reserves the right to vary the terms of the programme at any time, and without notice, should it be necessary to do so.

State aid and other matters

There is a requirement for all grants made under this programme to be state aid compliant.

Grant income received by a business is taxable therefore funding paid under this programme will be subject to tax. Only businesses which make an overall profit once grant income is included will be subject to tax.

The Council and Government will not accept any deliberate manipulation or fraud. Any business caught falsifying their records to gain grant money will face prosecution and any funding issued will be subject to claw back, as may any grants paid in error.

The final part of the application form is the personal declaration. At the start of the application process, businesses who are applying for a discretionary grant will be required to declare that they have read and understood the Guidance document. The declaration will confirm that they agree to abide with other obligations, including those set out above.

The Council does not accept any liability for any issues that may arise for businesses because of applying for, receiving, or not receiving grant payments under this programme.

Any grants awarded are discretionary and the Council’s decision will be final.

Enquiries about this programme can be emailed to businessgrowth@blackburn.gov.uk