New financial help for small businesses and charities in West Suffolk

More businesses and charities will be eligible for financial help thanks to a new scheme from West Suffolk Council and its lobbying of government.

The government announced extra funding to be targeted at certain types of small businesses.

The funding for this in West Suffolk is limited to around £1.9 million and West Suffolk Council has developed a scheme which targets the four areas which the government said should be prioritised – this included charities, businesses in shared premises, bed and breakfast owners and market traders.

Following lobbying from the council new government guidance was announced over the bank holiday.

This now allows businesses in receipt of self-employment support to also be included within this extension of the Small Business Grant Fund.

The council, with others, lobbied the government for this change to enable some shared space occupiers and the majority of our market traders and bed and breakfast owners to be eligible for this extended scheme.

Businesses in shared premises, charities, bed and breakfast owners and market traders in West Suffolk who have not so far been eligible for government grants, are now being asked to come forward.

Grants of £10,000 are available to small businesses operating in shared offices or other fixed workspace including units on industrial or science parks, and incubators, where they do not have their own business rate assessment. Charities may also be eligible for help of up to £10,000.

To be eligible, the overall property they operate out of must have had a business rates valuation before March 11.

For small businesses, they will only be eligible if their premises would have a rateable value under£15,000 if it were rated separately.

For business in retail, leisure or hospitality, their premises will only be eligible if it would have a rateable value under £51,000.

The grants will be paid out from funds announced by the Government as an extension of the Small Business Grant Fund.

In West Suffolk, the total amount of funding available is limited to just under £2m so the council has targeted the priority areas set out by the Government. Grants of £10,000 from this will also be paid to small charity properties. Regular market traders will be eligible for one grant calculated on the number of markets that they trade from at a rate of £2,500 per location with a maximum grant of £10,000.

Bed and breakfasts owners who pay council tax but not business rates will receive between £1,000 and £2,000 depending on the number of bed spaces they provide. These three types of businesses, together with small businesses in shared space, were all identified by the government to be the recipients of this fund.

The government has said that it wanted councils to begin making payments by June 1. In West Suffolk, however, the council has continued to make grant support to businesses a priority and has already begun contacting businesses about its new scheme.

As the council already held details for eligible small charities through the business rates system, West Suffolk Council begun contacting these last week.

It has also been contacting businesses in shared premises who have previously enquired about grants. Alongside permanent market traders and those bed and breakfast who have had a food safety inspection by the council.

The council has set a deadline of June 30 to contact and pay out grants to businesses.

John Griffiths, the leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “We are really pleased that following our lobbying of government and further clarification we are now helping more businesses and charities – some of which would not have been eligible for help. We are doing all that we can to get these grants out as soon as possible to further small businesses which, due to the government’s recent changes, now includes the majority of our regular market traders and B&B businesses. There is a limited extra fund of just under £2m available and although these grants have been described as discretionary, by the time the council has paid them from its allocation to the four business types prioritised by the government, we do not expect to have any funding left for any real discretion.”

Eligible businesses are asked to complete the appropriate form of their business type which can be found at https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/coronavirus/covid-19-support-for-business.cfm

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