Discretionary grant scheme for COVID-19 impacted businesses

On Friday 1 May the government announced a new Discretionary Grant which was also referred to as the Top Up Grant. Salford City Council was allocated £2.2 million to award to local eligible businesses and trading charities. This scheme is primarily aimed at small and micro businesses with ongoing fixed property costs that have suffered a significant fall in income due to COVID-19.

Round 1 of the Salford scheme closed on 9 June and we awarded £1.45m in grant funding to more than 230 businesses and charities. With the remaining balance of £0.75m, we ran a second round in August with extended eligibility criteria. This scheme is now closed.

Round 2 of the Business Discretionary Grant Fund

The second and final round of the Discretionary Grant Fund closed for applications on Tuesday 18 August 2020. No further applications are being  accepted.

For this final round we extended the eligibility criteria which meant that:

  • A broader range of local charities could apply as there was no upper limit on the rateable value of the property to be claimed for.
  • A large number of childcare settings could have applied provided they were Ofsted registered.
  • Additional businesses from the hard-hit retail, hospitality and leisure sector were included.
  • More small to medium sized businesses from any sector were also eligible.
  • Any round 1 eligible businesses and charities that missed the round 1 deadline had a second opportunity to apply.

The full details are outlined below in the section ‘Who is eligible for the Discretionary Grant?’

Important information:
Please make your application is submitted as soon as possible with all supporting evidence. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis and we cannot enter into a lengthy dialogue with you if essential evidence is missing from your application.

Although the closing date is set for Tuesday 18 August 2020, we may close the scheme down earlier than that, if the pot of money is spent before then.

If your business has already received a grant, it will not be eligible for another one. If your application was rejected previously please do not reapply unless you meet the additional eligibility criteria for round 2.

Who is eligible for the Discretionary Grant?

For us to consider your application your business must be in one of the following categories:

  • Multi-occupancy premises - small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces without an individual business rates assessment. Examples include units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators, as well as shared shop units with a single access, where the business pays an all-inclusive rent.
  • Charities – charity properties in receipt of Charitable Business Rates Relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Relief.
  • Regular market traders with fixed building costs such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment (restricted to Salford’s permanent markets only) 
  • Bed and breakfasts - which pay Council Tax instead of business rates.

New criteria for round 2

For us to consider your application your business must be in one of the following categories:

  • Charities occupying a property in receipt of Charitable Business Rates Relief with only one business rates assessment and being ineligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Relief. No rateable value limit.
  • Childcare providers - Non-public sector Ofsted registered providers of childcare such as nurseries and afterschool clubs that fall outside of the Business Rates Small Business Grant scheme. Must occupy only one property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
  • Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses that fall outside of the Business Rates Retail Grant scheme. Must occupy only one property with a rateable value between £51,000 and £100,000.
  • Small to medium enterprises that fall outside of the Business Rates Small Business Grant scheme. Must occupy only one property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £30,000.

In addition, the Government has stipulated that:

  • Your business must have been trading on 11 March 2020.
  • Your business is a small or micro business with a turnover less than £10.2 million, a balance sheet total less than £5.1 million and less than 50 employees.
  • You must be able to show a significant drop in income since March 2020 due to COVID-19.
  • You must not be able to access the Small Business Rates Grant; Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant.
  • Your business must not be in administration, insolvent or have a striking-off notice in place.

Grants awards

The amount of grant you receive will be equivalent to your annual fixed property costs such as rent and mortgage payments. Any business paying an all-inclusive rent to their landlord which may include other property costs such rates, insurance and utility costs, will be assessed on their all-inclusive rent payments. 

The council wants to maximise the number of grant beneficiaries. However we expect that demand for the grants will be high, potentially requiring more money than has been made available. We therefore plan to cap grants at £10,000 and expect the majority of awards will be under £10,000. Larger grant requests are capped by the government at £25,000 and will only be considered in exceptional circumstances. In such cases we would consider the individual merits of the case, the size of the business and number of employees, as well as the impact of the pandemic on the business.  

If the fund is oversubscribed with the applications received, the city council reserves the right to amend grant levels on a pro-rata basis as a way of dealing with this situation.

For businesses that have not been allowed to open or provide services that are not permitted due to social distancing rules, and have not been able to switch to providing online services, the level of income lost will be more significant to that of a business still able to operate albeit at a reduced level. This will be considered when awarding grants as we want to ensure the grant funds reach those businesses that have been significantly impacted.

How to apply

This scheme is now closed.

Key dates

The timeline for the scheme is:

  • Applications open: Tuesday 4 August, 9am
  • Applications close: Tuesday 18 August, midnight

This scheme is now closed.

State aid, tax and exclusions

Discretionary grants awards must comply with the EU law on State Aid. It is the responsibility of the business to ensure that any grant award does not take its total amount of State Aid received over the €200,000 limit, as prescribed in the De Minimis Regulations EC 1407/2013 - for grant payments up to and including £10,000. The higher limit of €800,000 applies to grant payments made up to £25,000, as prescribed by the COVID-19 Temporary Framework for UK Authorities.

Grant income received by a business is taxable, therefore funding paid under the Discretionary Grants Scheme will be subject to tax. Only businesses which make an overall profit once grant income is included will be subject to tax. 

The following businesses are excluded from applying:

  • Businesses operating from domestic settings (including Airbnb operators) or those that do not have fixed, property related costs.
  • Businesses whose ongoing, fixed property related costs are very low, and their tenancy status is fluid. Examples include using a facility on a sessional basis, renting a room, workspace or a desk for a limited number of days / hours per week, renting desk spaces in more than one local authority area.
  • Businesses that use premises for the sole purpose of having a registered business address.
  • Businesses that are part of a national chain or franchise.
  • Businesses that have already received COVID-19 related grant funding or financial support. However, businesses which have received funding via the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) or Coronavirus Job Retention scheme (CJRS) schemes can receive grants under the Discretionary Grants Fund. 
  • Bed and breakfasts in the city that have been paid to accommodate vulnerable groups or homeless people during this period (on the basis that they will not have seen a reduction in income).
  • Any business where there is evidence that they are having a detrimental impact on the city, our residents or our neighbourhoods, such as where the council is taking enforcement action against a business for a serious offence

Government Information about the Discretionary Grants Fund

This page was last updated on 19 August 2020

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