Covid-19 update: Discretionary Business Grants Scheme to be launched

A NEW scheme to provide discretionary support grants to businesses in Barrow is set to be launched on Monday, June 1.

The government made additional funding available to district, borough and city councils in Cumbria and the rest of the country to provide further grants to firms affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Barrow, this figure is £693,250.

Councils across Cumbria have been working together since the initial announcement of the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund to develop a shared approach to ensure schemes are coherent throughout the county.

The intention is to make sure the money is used to support the largest number of businesses possible while following guidelines set by the government.

The initial guidance provided by the government excluded those businesses that were eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. However, through continued local and national representation by councils and partners, the criteria of the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund was amended on May 23 to include these businesses.

It will also be available to businesses which received funds under the Job Retention Scheme.

Central government has set down key criteria for businesses to be able to access the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund. Eligible businesses must:

  • Have been trading on the 11th March 2020
  • Have not been eligible or received a grant from the existing Covid grant schemes or other support schemes (excluding the Self-employed Income Support Scheme).  

In addition to the eligibility criteria, the Government has said that the grants are aimed at the following businesses:  

  • Small or 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
  • Businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000 (where a rateable value exists this will be the figure used)

The maximum grant available in Barrow is £10,000.

A spokesperson on behalf of the Cumbrian Councils said: “We are genuinely grateful that central government has enabled local councils to support their areas with further business grants. 

“In Cumbria alone, we have provided grants totalling over £160 million since the pandemic struck. 

“It’s also reassuring to know that the government has listened and acted upon our and our partners’ calls to include those businesses who may have not met the criteria for the scheme.  

“Initially ruling out those who were eligible for the Self-employed Income Support Scheme could have led to many of our most affected businesses missing out through no fault of their own.

“Unfortunately, we realise that a number of businesses may still not be eligible and the money provided won’t support all those in need. We will continue talking to the government to ensure Cumbrian businesses get the vital help they need.”

In Barrow, applications for the fund will open at midday on Monday, June 1 for two weeks, closing at midday on Monday, June 15.

Applications will then be assessed with funding paid out to eligible businesses as soon as possible.