£2.4million grant scheme launched in East Devon to help small businesses and charities

Small businesses and charities in East Devon have until June 24 to apply for a new Government Discretionary Grant launched in the district this week.

The £2.4million scheme is aimed at those who have not previously been eligible for funding during the coronavirus crisis.

It follows previous initiatives which have seen more than £40million handed out to some 3,000 businesses in the area’s retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) cabinet agreed to administer the fund when it met on Tuesday.

Grants ranging from £1,000 – £25,000 are available to small and micro businesses which meet the criteria.

One key aspect of this requires businesses to have high ongoing fixed property-related costs.

They will also need to show they have suffered a major fall in income due to the Covid‐19 pandemic.

EDDC leader Councillor Paul Arnott said: “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 per cent 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.”

EDDC says, in line with government requirements, the following business types will be prioritised for funding support:

  • Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces, eg 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 ‘national fund priorities’, the council says 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 fewer 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.

EDDC added that its policy allows for ‘potential special cases’ to be considered –  where businesses are thought to be ‘most relevant and crucial to our local economy’.

Those which are not eligible for funding under this scheme include:

  • Businesses which were not trading on March 11, 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.

Applications can be made here.

Sidmouth representative Cathy Gardner is new chairman of East Devon District Council

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