Discretionary Business Grants Fund
Report of the Cabinet Member Finance TO FOLLOW
The Cabinet Member Finance presented the report. She thanked officers for their hard work against considerable time pressure, and emphasised the importance of responding proactively to a quickly evolving situation.
She welcomed the additional support to Cheltenham’s businesses that had missed out on the first round of grants. She explained that central government had provided the council with £1,128,750, which equated to 5% of the funding allocation for the estimated number of businesses eligible for the Small Business Grants Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants as of the 4th May. The 5% funding was being made available from any residual unspent balance of the initial grant allocation. Additional funding would be provided by central government, where the remaining unspent balance was insufficient for the 5% allocation. She acknowledged that at present, the government was not allocating funding above the 5%, so any grants awarded above this allocation would have to be funded by the council.
She added that as funding was limited, the actual level of grants to businesses was to be decided once applications had been received and it was known how many businesses were entitled. New burdens funding would be provided for the administrative costs of the scheme.
She clarified that the grants were to be primarily aimed at small and micro-businesses, as well as the following:
- businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs
- businesses which could demonstrate that they had suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis
- businesses which occupy property or part of a property with a rateable value, annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000
She acknowledged that although the council was able to exercise some discretion when allocating the fund to support business types most relevant to the local economy, the government had prioritised the following types of businesses to be included in schemes:
- 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 which 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
She reported that in designing the scheme, the four councils included an additional local priority to support certain businesses in the hospitality sector which were likely to remain closed for a longer period due to the COVID-19 restrictions and were not eligible for support in the previous scheme. This additional priority group was intended to benefit many local independent local businesses, including bars, restaurants, cafes nightclubs, pubs and boutique hotels that have a rateable value of between £51,000 and £105,001.
She proposed that the following grants would be awarded to the following groups, all subject to demand:
- market traders – up to a maximum of £5,000
- bed and breakfasts – up to a maximum of £5,000
- charities – up to a maximum of £10,000
- small and micro businesses in shared office space – up to a maximum of £10,000
- Local Priority Businesses, as defined in section 7 and meeting the criteria in sections 3 and 4 of the scheme – up to a maximum of £25,000
She reminded members that funding for the grant scheme was limited, and therefore the scheme would only be open for businesses to submit applications during a short period between 9th and 21st June via an online application form on the Council’s website. All applications were to be assessed once the window was closed. The maximum level of grant for each category of business type would then be determined based on demand, before grant payments began from the 25th June.
She emphasised the importance of working collaboratively, noting that Gloucester, Stroud and Tewkesbury district councils, Gloucestershire County Council, GFirst LEP, Cheltenham BID and the Cheltenham MP’s office had all been consulted to ensure the scheme provided consistent support to priority businesses across the county.
She added that the Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee had waived the right to call-in, and therefore that the application process would be made live as soon as Cabinet approved the report.
The Leader of the Council added that business grants were of great importance, and that he hoped they would help keep businesses going in a difficult time.
1. The Local Discretionary Business Grant Scheme in Appendix 2 be approved.
2. Authority be delegated to the Head of Revenues and Benefits to take decisions relating to applications made under the Local Discretionary Business Grant Scheme and to delegate authority to the Executive Director Finance and Assets, in consultation with the Cabinet Member Finance, to consider and determine any reviews requested in respect of such decisions.
- 2020_06_09_CAB_Local_Discretionary_Business_Grant_Scheme, item 7. PDF 250 KB
- 2020_06_09_CAB_Discretionary Business Grant Policy Final, item 7. PDF 394 KB