Updated: 5 May 2020
The government is to make up to £617m available to local authorities in England to support small businesses faced with ongoing fixed property-related costs during the coronavirus pandemic, when they may have been forced to close or restrict their activity.
The intended beneficiaries of the top up are those businesses that pay council tax rather than business rates, and so have missed out on other support.
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 breakfast owners. However, local authorities are free to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need.
The top up funding represents an additional 5% uplift to the £12.33bn funding previously announced for the small business grants fund (SBGF) and the retail, hospitality, and leisure grants fund (RHLGF). The government says it will confirm the exact amount for each local authority shortly.
To qualify, 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.
There will be three levels of grant payments. The maximum is set at £25,000, and there will also be grants of £10,000.
Local authorities will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. It will be for councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances.
Further guidance for local authorities will be set out shortly.