A new Government Discretionary Grant aimed at supporting small businesses and charities in East Devon launches today, 10th June.

Online applications for the Scheme 3 fund will be open for two weeks, from 10th June to 24th June at www.eastdevon.gov.uk/discretionary-business-grant. This follows previous schemes which supported businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors as well as small businesses more generally and has seen over £40m being deployed to over 3,000 businesses in the District. 

Following agreement by Cabinet on 9th June, East Devon District Council will administer the £2.4 million fund to small and micro businesses which were trading on 11 March 2020 and have not been eligible for other grants, except the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.

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

A range of grants will be available: £1,000, £2,500, £5,000, £10,000 and £25,000 with all businesses required to meet the same evidence based tests of eligibility. The following business types will be prioritised for funding support, in line with Government requirements:

  • Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces, e.g. industrial parks, science parks, incubators etc, which do not have their own business rates assessment.
  • Regular market traders who do not have their own business rates assessment.
  • Bed and Breakfasts which pay Council Tax instead of business rates.
  • Charity properties in receipt of Charitable Business Rates Relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.

In addition to these national fund priorities, the Council has decided that it will accept applications from local businesses which meet the Government eligibility criteria and:

  • Have high fixed property costs associated with the business (including business rates).
  • Can evidence significant financial loss as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Employ less than 50 staff.
  • Fall within the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors or can evidence the majority of their customer base are retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.
  • May be classified as a language school.
  • Are not eligible under the national priorities grant scheme.

The Council’s policy also allows for potential special cases to be considered, where businesses are considered most relevant and crucial to our local economy. 

Councillor Paul Arnott, Leader of East Devon District Council, said:

It is welcome that Government has made this funding available, this time with more locally targeted aims, and we will be working cross party to ensure the money gets out of the building to the enterprises that need it as fast as possible.

Our analysis suggests that less than 50% of the funding that would be needed to fully meet local needs has been made available and we do need our MPs to keep pressing the government for further funds.  That said, we urge businesses to apply as soon as possible.

Businesses not eligible for funding under this scheme include:

  • Businesses which were not trading on 11 March 2020.
  • Businesses currently in administration or insolvent, or where a striking-off notice has been made.
  • Businesses eligible for other Government funding schemes (EXCEPT Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the self-employed income support scheme).

Businesses should ensure they have the corresponding supporting documents at hand before starting the application, including bank statement for March, April or May 2020. Other supporting information may be needed for certain business-types, including latest company accounts, HMRC tax return, tenancy agreement. Only one application per business will be allowed, regardless of the number of premises the business occupies.

Officers at the Council will be working as quickly as possible to process the claims and cannot respond to each business with individual updates, so businesses are asked to remain patient and a response will reach you as soon as possible.