Demand for discretionary grants outstrips city’s funding pot by millions

Discretionary grants

The Discretionary Grant Fund is one of several financial packages introduced by the government to support small businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The grants specifically support small and micro businesses that are not eligible for other grant schemes.

Brighton & Hove was allocated a fund of £3.7 million to support its small independent businesses.

Applications to the fund had to be submitted by 12 June. By the midnight deadline, 916 bids to a value of £10,787,500 had been made through the council’s online portal.

Of these, 204 bids were for £25,000, 521 were for £10,000 and 191 were for £2,500 making a total shortfall of £7m.


Council leader Nancy Platts said: “The pandemic has had a huge impact on small businesses and the people who work in our independent business sector. They are an essential part of what makes Brighton & Hove a vibrant, creative place and we need to make sure they can recover. 

‘’We recognised early on that many of our small independent businesses were falling through the cracks and wrote to government asking for local discretion to support the businesses we knew were crying out for help. 

‘’The discretionary fund was a welcome step but has unfortunately fallen far short of being adequate.

‘’The total pot we have for the grants is £3.7m – so we are oversubscribed by around £7m. 

‘’Clearly this is not good enough and leaves many businesses on the brink of closure. This cannot be right, and we are urging government to think again.   

‘’I am asking the government to make all the remaining small business grant fund available to spend on discretionary grants so that we can help more businesses survive the public health crisis and rebuild a thriving local economy.

‘’These small independents are the lifeblood of our city and its communities. People have put their heart and soul into setting up their businesses and keeping them going. We cannot stand by and watch them go under.’’


The criteria and application process for the discretionary grants fund for small businesses was agreed by the council’s Policy & Resources (Recovery) Sub-Committee on 29 May 2020.

The criteria was designed to capture small businesses that make a significant contribution to the city’s economy, including the visitor economy, retail, events, creative and digital, as well as charities and not-for-profit organisations. These reflect the core sectors identified in the Economic Strategy and the council’s Corporate Plan priorities.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their grant application before 22 June. 

Businesses do not have to pay the grant back, but it is taxable. Only businesses which make an overall profit once grant income is included will be subject to tax.

Report about the council issuing government funding for businesses

More information about the government’s discretionary grant funding

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