Newcastle City Council has welcomed additional funding to support local businesses through the coronavirus pandemic.
A new discretionary fund worth over £3 million, will be released for businesses who fell outside the scope of the Government’s previous emergency business grant schemes. An additional 600 businesses are set to benefit from grants of £5,000 which will include:
- Small businesses that operate from shared offices or other flexible workspaces. Examples could include units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment;
- Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment;
- Bed & 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.
Cllr Ged Bell, cabinet member for Employment & Culture at Newcastle City Council said: “Businesses across the city are really struggling and we need to support as many as we can, to help the city recover and protect local jobs and the economy.
“We’ve lobbied hard for additional support for businesses and we are pleased that this funding, although limited, is now available.
“This discretionary fund is for the many small businesses that fell through the cracks of the previous funds. Government has set the parameters of this funding and we’ve further developed it, focusing on our local business needs to get cash to as many businesses as we can.
“As with larger cities, we have many businesses who operate in shared workspaces, and it was important we tailored our support to help this disproportionately affected sector.
“This fund will support businesses based within managed workspaces such as our talented creative sector, operators of B&Bs impacted by the fall in visitors to the city, some market traders as well as the charity sector, who the most vulnerable in our city rely on.
“Sadly, demand is likely to be higher than funds government has made available, so we would urge businesses to act fast as, even if you meet the criteria, we can only allocate funding to around 600 businesses.
“These are difficult and challenging times for business and our business support teams will work tirelessly to get this funding to you. We are all in this together, so please get in touch as we’re here to help.”
The scheme will launch on the 5 of June at 10 am. Full details on eligibility and how to apply are available at www.newcastle.gov.uk/covidbusinesssupport
The funding is to help businesses who were not eligible for the Small Business Grants or the retail, hospitality and leisure grants, who received grants of £10,000 or £25,000 which has helped over 4,000 local businesses with funds of £54 million.
Due to the limited finding available, the council is cautioning that funding will be released in order of application. As verification checks are required, the council is urging businesses to check the eligibility criteria and information required now so they can prepare for when the scheme opens.
The council is also keen to stress that businesses who were eligible from any other Central Government Covid-19 related scheme are ineligible. This does not include those who are eligible for the Self Employed Income Support Scheme.
Although this is a discretionary fund, Newcastle City Council has followed government’s guidance on eligibility criteria. As the city has many businesses who fit the criteria, the grant is set at £5,000 to ensure a greater spread across the city and which best meets the need of the local economy.
This is down to the higher proportion on businesses operating from shared or flexible workspaces, which is typical in cities such as Newcastle. As many small businesses operating within these spaces do not have an individual rating for Business Rates, they were ineligible for the previous grant schemes, which has left Newcastle businesses, particularly those based in the city centre, disproportionately affected.
Estimates also show that 18% of businesses eligible for a grant through the Small Business Grant or retail, hospitality and leisure grant funds have yet to take up their allocation.
They can still access this at www.newcastle.gov.uk/covidbusinesssupport.
The council is working closely with a range of partners, including NE1 and NGI. Together they will support businesses across the city, proactively reaching out to eligible companies, signposting and gathering intelligence to help inform potential new packages where gaps are identified.
Advice for businesses is available at: www.newcastle.gov.uk/covidbusinesssupport