A fresh wave of grant funding launched as councils are called on to do their bit to continue supporting businesses.
Hard-pressed businesses across the economy will receive fresh support from the new £5 billion Restart Grants scheme launching today (1 April), as the government on councils to get funds to business owners as soon as possible. The Restart Grants scheme was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Budget on 3 March 2021.
From today, businesses in England in the non-essential retail sector will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000, while businesses in the hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym sectors, which are reopening later, will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £18,000. The £5 billion of government funding available through the Restart Grants scheme will be delivered by local authorities.
Your business may be eligible if it is:
- based in England
- in the non-essential retail, hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care or gym sectors
- trading on 1 April 2021
You cannot get funding if your business is in administration, insolvent or has been struck off the Companies House register, or has exceeded the permitted subsidy allowance.
This scheme is covered by 3 subsidy allowances:
- Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance – you’re allowed up to £335,000 (subject to exchange rates) over any period of 3 years
- COVID-19 Business Grant Allowance – you’re allowed up to £1,600,000
- COVID-19 Business Grant Special Allowance – if you have reached your limits under the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance and COVID-19 Business Grant Allowance, you may be able to access a further allowance of funding under these scheme rules of up to £9,000,000, provided certain conditions are met
Grants under these 3 allowances can be combined for a potential total allowance of up to £10,935,000 (subject to exchange rates).
Local councils will use their discretion to determine whether businesses meet the eligibility criteria for this grant scheme. Eligible businesses will be paid:
- a one-off grant of up to £6,000 in the non-essential retail sector
- a one-off grant of up to £18,000 in the hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym sectors
Businesses can check their eligibility for the Restart Grant here.
Support via the Restart Grant is coupled with £425 million of top-up funding for the ongoing Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) Scheme for councils to distribute to businesses in particularly urgent need of additional support – which could also be businesses who don’t necessarily pay business rates like tour operators, B&Bs, caterers, freelancers and wedding service providers.
The ARG is designed to provide support to businesses in acute need and is not constrained solely to businesses that have had to remain closed. Businesses such as freelancers, market traders, close contact service providers like wedding hairdressers and makeup artists without a fixed premises, tour operators and B&Bs are all further examples of business types in scope for these grants. Businesses can receive ARG funding alongside Restart Grants funding if they are eligible and their council deems them to be in urgent need of additional support.
“During this crisis billions of pounds worth of grants have been made available to businesses that desperately need it, yet, frustratingly, so much of it is still yet to be allocated,” Mike Cherry, National Chair at the Federation of Small Businesses, said. “It’s good that the government is making it clear to local authorities that ARG grants are genuinely discretionary, and that the priority is to get this support delivered. Whether that’s to home-based businesses, direct or indirect suppliers to retail, leisure and hospitality, tourism, or others that need support, lots of small firms are in need and it’s vital that this money gets to them.”
Minister Scully and Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston have written to the leaders of 314 councils in England urging them to do all they can to pay out grants money more quickly and ensure businesses in their local authority area get the support they need. Allocations from the latest £425 million ARG top-up will be provided to local authorities if existing funds have been spent by 30 June 2021.
Visit your local council’s website to find out how to apply: find the website for your local council.
The launch of the Restart Grants scheme is the latest in a series of measures introduced since March 2020 to provide direct funding to businesses which have been disrupted or required to close. Some of the most effective measures included the ongoing furlough scheme compensating up to 80% of employees’ salaries as well as government-backed emergency loan schemes that have supported over a quarter of UK businesses with almost £180 billion worth of lending to date.
The total provided to councils to give to businesses directly is now more than £25 billion. This is part of the unprecedented support package of over £352 billion delivered by the government to protect jobs and livelihoods, including the extended furlough and self-employed income support schemes, government-backed loans, VAT and business rates relief and a ban on commercial evictions.