|Lockdown grants available for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses|
Northampton Borough Council is working hard to understand what it must and can do to support local businesses and our economy during this new national lock-down.
Information is coming out from Government daily as to what it expects local authorities to deliver. The information we have at present is the broad guide around which businesses must close and which may remain open.
We now know we will again administer Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Grant Support, we will receive £2.913 million to distribute to those businesses that must close, for the four-week lock-down. These will be grants of:
We will again use a portal system for businesses to access these grants. This has been developed since announcements were made and will go live as soon as is practicable.
Cllr Brandon Eldred, Council Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “We have been trying to prepare as best we can but are always reliant on the Government formal instructions to understand what we can or can’t do.
“We will deliver these grants as fast as we can, but we also have been cautioned by Government to be mindful of the level of attempted fraud, so must do the necessary checks and balances.
“We are seeking to reuse as much data as we can from previous schemes. This would mean that, if we are paying funds into the same bank account, those who previously received a grant will benefit from a simpler process.
“We will still need them to prove they are still trading and that grant support will not breach state aid rules.”
“It is important that businesses check that they are on the Government’s list of businesses required to close, before they do so, as if they are not, they might be ineligible for grants.
This new funding does introduce a new level of grant, above £51K rateable value, so there may be some businesses that we need to undertake some further checks and balances to access the grants.
During a briefing by BEIS yesterday (Wednesday 4 November), we can confirm that those businesses which are required to be closed will be considered ‘closed’ for the purposes of this grant. If they are able to operate a form of ‘click and collect’ safely to assist their business they may do so.
Cllr Eldred added: “One frequent comment we see around supporting retailers is that they should receive business rate relief.
“I can reassure everyone that for 2020/21 no businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure industry will pay business rates, regardless of size, which equates to around £40 million of relief for businesses in our Borough.”
In Addition to the BEIS Business Grant Funding scheme, which will be topped up by Government if necessary, the Council has also been awarded £4.492 million of ‘Additional Restrictions Grant’, which has not yet been received. How this money will be used is being developed to ensure this additional one-off funding is used to the best benefit of businesses in Northampton.
Any business which has been severely affected by the lockdown could benefit from discretionary funding, further information is available on our website.