Market traders, B&Bs and other small businesses hit by the Covid-19 crisis will be offered help through a new £2.8 million grant scheme – but they have less than a week to apply.
Grants of up to £10,000 will be available to businesses which have been affected by the lockdown but have so far missed out on government support.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been allocated the cash from the government’s £617 million Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund, which was announced on May 2.
The authority has already handed out £48.6m to 4,272 businesses in the city through the Business Grant Fund, but many businesses have not been eligible for support.
Under the new scheme, funding will be directed primarily at small and micro businesses; businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs; businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the Covid-19 crisis; and businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000.
Eligible business, which must have been trading on March 11, 2020, have until 5pm on Wednesday, June 3, to apply.
Grants will be awarded at the discretion of the council, and priority will be given to the following:
- Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces, such as those with units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment.
- Market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment.
- Bed and 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.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “We want to support as many small businesses as possible to help them through this most difficult of times.
“The government issued final guidance on how this scheme will run on May 22, and we have moved as quickly as possible to make the funding available and to give businesses the opportunity to apply.
“This is another lifeline to support potentially hundreds of more businesses and traders and we encourage businesses to now come forward to apply.”
Richard Cresswell, chairman of Longton Chamber of Trade, welcomed the new grant funding.
He said: “Businesses need all the help they can get at the moment. This is affecting everyone and it will go on for a long time yet. I think there are some businesses which won’t survive.
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“I think there has been enough government support, but I don’t understand why some businesses haven’t applied for the funding that’s there. If they don’t apply for it, that funding will be lost.”
For a full list of eligibility criteria and an application form visit www.stoke.gov.uk/discretionarygrant.
The council is also trying to contact around 550 businesses which have not yet applied to the Business Grant Fund, but may be eligible for support. Further information can be found at www.stoke.gov.uk/businessratesgrants.
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