Following further Government announcements Devon councils have quickly organised to launch an additional package of funding aimed at helping small and micro businesses. Importantly this includes all those that have not been eligible for any other grant, with the exception of the furloughed Job Retention Scheme and the self‐employed income support scheme, and who were trading on 11 March 2020.

Small Businesses to Benefit from Discretionary Grants

One of the key criteria for eligibility is businesses who have high ongoing fixed property-related costs and who can show that they have suffered a major fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Grants will range from £1,000 to £25,000 with all businesses required to meet the same evidence based tests of need.  The following business types will be prioritised for funding support, in line with Government requirements:

  • Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces.
  • Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment;
  • Bed and Breakfasts which pay Council Tax instead of business rates; and
  • Charity properties in receipt of Charitable Business Rates Relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.

Those not eligible for funding under this scheme include:

  • Small businesses with a turnover of more than £10.2 million, balance sheet of more than £5.1 million and more than 50 staff
  • Micro businesses with a turnover of more than £632,000, balance sheet of more than £316,000 with more than 10 staff
  • Businesses who were not trading on 11 March 2020
  • Businesses currently in administration or insolvent

Leader of South Hams District Council, Cllr Judy Pearce, said: "It's really important that we continue to support as many businesses as we possibly can with this new, but small pocket of Government funding.  We have been allocated £2.3 million but this won't go far with the need for support by our many local businesses. 

"In addition to the business sectors recommended by the Government, we've also included more South Hams' focused businesses such as those involved in tourism, the food and drink hospitality supply chain and also those who have marine businesses who fit the criteria stated. 

"Please ensure that all information entered online is completed very carefully to ensure that businesses entitled to funding are not delayed due to errors made during the application process."

The councils are expecting there to be a large demand for funding therefore to ensure the money is shared fairly, they will be accepting applications in three separate sections.  Businesses not successful within each sections, will be rolled forward for another chance until all of the funds have been allocated.

Applications are open on the councils' website from Monday 1 June, with the first grants being paid on 15 June. The second and third segments will then follow at two weekly intervals.  

The councils will be checking all claims against previously approved grants, data held on file and with HM Revenue and Customs records. Any business caught falsifying their records to gain grant money will face prosecution and any funding issued will be reclaimed.

Leader of West Devon Borough Council, Cllr Neil Jory, said: "We really welcome this Government initiative and shall be ensuring our £870,500 of money gets out quickly to those most in need, who so far have not received any support. 

"It is unfortunate that the funding available is so limited as we anticipate more applications from deserving businesses than the funding will be able to pay out to, which will inevitably lead to disappointment.

"In addition to the four main business types supported by these grants, West Devon will also look at helping those small tourism, and food and drink hospitality supply chain businesses within the Borough."

If a business believes it fits the criteria stated, they can apply for funding via their council's website.

Please ensure you have the corresponding supporting documents at hand before you start the application, including bank statement for March this year, latest set of accounts, HMRC Self-assessment with a cash flow forecast. You may also need a Tenancy Agreement, if applicable.

The councils' Grant teams will be working as quickly as possible to process the claims and cannot respond to each business with individual updates, so they ask businesses to please remain patient and they will get back to you as soon as they can.

Please take care when entering details and especially numbers; incorrect information provided could significantly delay your grant.  Please check your bank account details carefully - we will not be able to pay a discretionary grant twice, so if you provide incorrect bank details, you may not receive the grant if we cannot reclaim the original payment.