Since launching the new Discretionary Business Grant in June the council has already given over £800,000 to 132 great local businesses. And that’s on top of more than £34 million that has already been paid to local businesses through a range of support grants and rates relief to help them in this difficult time.
Cllr John Kaiser, executive member for finance and housing, said: “Whilst restrictions are easing up we know many of our businesses have been suffering and this discretionary grant allows us to offer help to those most in need.
“As we still have some funding we have decided to reopen the Discretionary grant to new applications. We have also updated the policy to enable more businesses to apply as several met our wider criteria, but were not eligible as they had previously received Government Covid loans such as the Bounce Back Loan. This will allow us to support even more of our fantastic local businesses and we encourage them to apply before the deadline of Friday 10 July.”
The Discretionary grant is targeted at those small businesses with high fixed property-related costs that were not eligible for the earlier grant schemes that the council has been administering. It will initially be funded from the same Government funding pot as earlier schemes.
The grants are primarily and predominantly aimed at:
- Small and micro businesses (as defined in Section 33 Part 2 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 and the Companies Act 2006)
- Businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related cost
- Businesses which can demonstrate that 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.
Businesses who applied when the Discretionary grant first launched in June, but were turned down because they were in receipt of a Bounce Back Loan, do not need to reapply and will automatically be reassessed to see if they are now meet our eligibility criteria.
New applications will be considered on a first come first serve basis.
Cllr Kaiser continued: “Supporting local business is incredibly important to the council. Not only are they major employers but they also put so much back into the local economy and our local communities.
“As part of our Covid recovery work we have created a new Business and Economic Recovery group whose focus is on looking at how the council can help support and work with businesses across the borough.
“The recovery group has been working closely with other bodies such as the Public Protection Partnership, Thames Valley LEP, Federation of Small Businesses and the Chamber of Commerce to look at what wider resources are available to support businesses and make sure they can access them with ease.
“Targeted surveys have gone out to various business sectors to gather feedback about the impact Covid has had on them, their thoughts on recovery and to identify opportunities to work together to help this happen. This has already led to a range of activities including webinars, additional guidance and one to one meetings with businesses around licencing and other important matters.
“The recovery group also continues to work closely with our towns and parishes, along with groups including the Wokingham Business Association, Love Wokingham, Twyford Together and the Woodley Town Centre Management Initiative to help our shopping areas bounce back. From business packs with floor stickers and posters, to temporary changes in the ways our local roads are laid out, we continue to make sure our centres remain safe places to shop and visit.”
Applications to the reopened discretionary grant scheme open today (Thursday July 2). Money will be allocated on a first come first served basis until the allocated funds have run out or until Friday July 10 when the scheme will close to new applications.
For full details on who can apply and how, visit our website.