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Small Businesses Urged to Apply for Grant Funding

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SMALL businesses across Reading have a two-week window to apply for new grant funding to help support them through the Covid-19 crisis.

Small Businesses – How To Apply

Local firms have until Sunday June 14th to apply for Reading Borough Council’s new Discretionary Grant Fund Scheme. They can check if they meet the eligibility criteria and complete an application form at www.reading.gov.uk/discretionarygrantfund

Reading expects to be given around £1.4 million by Government as part of a new national scheme created to support certain small businesses which previously fell outside the scope of the main business grant funds scheme.

The Council’s scheme closely follows central Government guidance in terms of criteria and which businesses are eligible. Due to the limited funds available, the Council fully expects demand for grants to significantly outweigh supply. Grant values will therefore only be finalised once the two week application window has shut,  at which point the Council can establish demand, carry out the relevant checks and ensure financial support reaches the maximum number of small local businesses in Reading.

A  two-tier payment approach has been designed by the Council based on the estimated rateable value (RV) of businesses. No grants will be awarded without an application being made and incomplete claims or claims received after June 14th will not be considered. At this stage it is anticipated payments to successful businesses will be made by BACS on week commencing 22nd June.

Councillor Jason Brock, Reading Borough Council Leader, said:

“It has understandably been a hugely worrying few months for local businesses in Reading, both large and small.

“Council officers have worked hard to create a scheme for Reading which takes into account national guidance and is consistent with our neighbouring authorities. It is also important to emphasise up front that the level of funding available will only be determined on the basis of number of eligible claims. If demand is high, and I anticipate that it will be, we will be lobbying Government for further funding to help businesses across our town.

“Small businesses now have a fortnight to submit their application, and by June 14th at the latest, at which point the Council will be in a position to verify the number of eligible businesses and level of awards.

“We expect to be in a  position to start distributing that vital money in a little over 3 weeks which – alongside the potential easing of some restrictions on local trade from mid-June –  will be a welcome boost for small businesses at this challenging time.”

Who

The Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund seeks to support four priority business types. They are:

  • Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible work spaces which do not have their own business rates assessment but have an estimated rateable value of £15,000 or less to align with the small business rates grant scheme. The assumed RV will be based on annual rent or mortgage payments due in the financial year. In addition, checks will be undertaken to ensure the business would be eligible for Small Business Rates Relief, had it had its own liability to pay business rates.
  • Regular market traders who do not have their own business rates assessment, but with fixed locations in the borough and an estimated maximum rateable value of £51,000 in line with the retail, hospitality and leisure grant scheme. The assumed RV of £51,000 or less will be based on an annual rent or mortgage payment due in the financial year.
  • Bed & Breakfasts which pay Council Tax instead of business rates will be considered where there is an estimated maximum rateable value of £51,000 in line with the retail, hospitality and leisure grant scheme. The estimated RV will be based on annual rental or mortgage payments due in the financial year
  • Charitable businesses in receipt of Charitable Business Rates Relief, who would otherwise have been entitled to Small Business Rates Relief will require an assessment to ensure the business would be eligible for small business rates relief, the RV must be £15,000 or less to be considered

Importantly, businesses who received financial support from the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure Grant Fund are not eligible to receive a Grant from this Discretionary Fund.

Further Information

Eligibility criteria for the Discretionary Grant Fund Scheme have been set by Central Government and can be found online at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-business-support-grant-funding.  A Decision Book was also published on May 29th at https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?ID=415.

If any local businesses has questions around the application process, or are unsure if they are eligible, they can email business.rates@reading.gov.uk