West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, has welcomed the announcement of the Government’s new discretionary fund for small businesses.
The fund has been set up to help certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the other business funding available, such as the Small Business Grant Scheme and Retail Hospitality and Leisure Grant Scheme.
This additional funding is aimed at helping small businesses impacted by coronavirus with ongoing fixed property-related costs, such as businesses in shared spaces.
Tim said: “Supporting the West of England’s tens of thousands of small firms is going to be a vital part of our economic recovery and renewal, so I’m pleased that Government has listened to and acted on my calls to provide them with more support.
“I’ve been particularly concerned about the challenges that tenants of shared workspaces face, in accessing grants and business rates holidays, so this has been a key part of the ask that I and other Metro Mayors have made to Government. These facilities are going to play a crucial role in our recovery, both for retaining existing businesses and to provide a foundation for future innovation and growth.”
The additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. The Government is asking local authorities to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates.
There will be three levels of grant payments – which will be allocated at the discretion of local councils. The maximum will be £25,000. There will also be grants of £10,000, and councils will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000, based on local economic need.
Businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to coronavirus restriction measures.
Further guidance for the discretionary fund will be set out by the Government shortly.
The West of England Combined Authority is working with regional partners, and with government, to ensure people and businesses across the region are getting the support they need.