Applications have opened today (Wednesday) for eligible Island businesses to apply for grant funding under an additional government discretionary scheme.
The council has been allocated £2.96 million to distribute, specifically to those businesses which missed out under the far larger initial government grant scheme, and which qualify under the new criteria.
Details of the extra scheme, including which businesses qualify and an application form, can be accessed from www.iwight.com/covid19_businessadvice.
Under the new scheme, businesses are required to submit financial and other evidence to support their application. Only businesses which were trading on 11 March 2020 are eligible.
The council aims to process applications as swiftly as possible over the coming weeks before distributing payments to successful applicants. The scheme will be reviewed at various stages and further sectors may be added. There will also be an appeals process.
The government has said businesses which meet the following criteria should consider whether to apply:
- Small businesses that satisfy two or more of the following requirements in a year – turnover of not more than £10.2 million, balance sheet total of not more than £5.1 million, fewer than 50 employees.
- Micro businesses that satisfy two or more of the following requirements in a year – turnover of not more than £632,000, balance sheet total of not more than £316,000, no more than ten employees.
- Businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs.
- Businesses which can show they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the Covid-19 crisis.
- Businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000.
The government has asked councils to prioritise sectors including: small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces; regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent; bed and breakfasts which pay council tax instead of business rates; additional charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief.
The government has also given local councils discretion to apply their own criteria in certain areas.
The Isle of Wight Council has considered key local factors, and has added criteria to include:
- businesses based in properties with a zero rateable value, but still with ongoing property costs;
- businesses based on self-catering holiday accommodation which pay council tax instead of business rates;
- businesses which are significant suppliers to the leisure and hospitality business which have suffered significant losses due to Covid-19.
Council leader, Councillor Dave Stewart, said: “I am delighted we have got this extra scheme to help those Island businesses which may have missed out under the initial grants. I would urge these businesses to check the new qualifying criteria and send in an application if they are eligible.
“If some businesses continue to miss out, even with the introduction of this scheme, we will seek to bring this to the attention of the government and highlight where we feel the scheme might be extended. While there is some local discretion, there may be some exclusions where our hands are still tied by the over-riding government criteria.
“We remain committed to continuing to work to help Island businesses gain access to all available help in these very difficult times.”
It is anticipated the £2.96 million allocated to the council for the additional scheme will come out of any monies left over from the £62.8 million provided by the government to the Island under its initial business grants fund.
A total of 3,752 Island businesses have received £42.8 million of funding under the initial scheme. The council is nearing completion of these payments – with a major push taking place to reach any remaining qualifying businesses that have not submitted their details for payment.