New grant scheme opens for small businesses

A new discretionary grant is now open for businesses in the Babergh and Mid Suffolk district council areas who are based in shared offices or other flexible workspaces, market traders, bed and breakfasts and small charity properties.

As part of the government’s extended package of COVID-19 support, the grant is for businesses who are not eligible for either the Small Business or Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Funds but still have ongoing fixed property-related costs such as rent, license fees, hire or mortgage payments.

To qualify for the grant, businesses must be permanently operating out of either:

a share of a larger business premises which is rated for business rates purposes (of £15,000 or less or £51,000 or less in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector);

a regular market stall on the weekly markets in Hadleigh, Stowmarket and Sudbury;

a bed and breakfast premises in a residential property that is subject to council tax and holds a current food safety licence;

and a charity premises which is rated for business rates purposes and has a rateable value of £15,000 or less.

To access the discretionary grant, eligible businesses must complete an online application form and provide evidence they operate from a single premises, were trading at the premises on March 11, 2020, and demonstrate a significant fall in income due to COVID-19. The first phase of applications is open until Friday, June 19.

The value of the grants in Babergh and Mid Suffolk range between £2,500 to £5,000 and can only be claimed by businesses who have been unable to access any other grants (excluding the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme). The grant allowance has been set individually by each local authority depending on the level of funding they have received from Government while also aiming to support as many small businesses as possible.

Unlike the Small Business Grant Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund, which allocated grants automatically to certain businesses based on their rateable business rates, the discretionary grant will take into account certain factors when determining the grant allocation. These factors include fixed costs, number of employees, ability to trade online, whether a business has had to close completely and the scale of losses due to COVID-19.

Michael Holt, Babergh District Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, said: “We understand the challenges that our small businesses have faced due to the coronavirus crisis and we welcome the introduction of the discretionary grant that will help smaller businesses in shared spaces, market traders as well as B&Bs and charities who have been unable to access any other financial support.”

And Gerard Brewster, Mid Suffolk Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, added: “I urge small businesses with property costs to find out whether they qualify for the discretionary grant and apply as soon as possible. There are a huge number of ongoing challenges for our smaller businesses and charities and this fund could make a huge difference to those that are struggling in the current economic climate.”

Once the first phase of the discretionary grant funding has closed, the council will review the remaining budgets and hope to open the grant to other types of small businesses in the districts.

The Small Business Grant and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Funds are both still open for new applications.

For more information about the discretionary grant including criteria and application requirements, or to apply, visit www.babergh.gov.uk or www.midsuffolk.gov.uk

For any queries about the discretionary grant contact discretionarybusinessgrant@baberghmidsuffolk.gov.uk

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