Discretionary fund for small businesses

Update Friday 29 May

The criteria and application process for the discretionary grants fund for small businesses was agreed by the Policy & Resources (Recovery) Sub-Committee today.

Further details about guidance and how to apply will be published next week.

Thursday 28 May

We are developing a local discretionary grant scheme for the city’s small businesses.

Brighton & Hove’s fund, anticipated to be around £3.7 million, will provide small grants for some of our independent businesses who have not been eligible for the government’s small business grants.

The proposed criteria and application process is being discussed at the first meeting of the Policy & Resources (Recovery) Sub-Committee on Friday 29 May. 

Criteria to benefit local economy

We will design the criteria so that it captures small businesses who 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 our Corporate Plan priorities.

Leader of the council Nancy Platts and chair of the committee 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, exciting and creative place and we need to make sure they can recover. 

“We’ve also discovered that many are falling through the cracks because they do not meet the criteria for small business grants. There are 13,500 businesses in the city, so we believe many more could benefit from a small grant. We wrote to government asking for local discretion and I’m pleased that has been recognised but it is not enough.”  

Funds for small businesses

The amount councils can spend is limited by government guidance to 5% of the total paid out in small business grants. If all of the eligible businesses come forward to claim, we expect to pay out £73.5 million to 5,500 beneficiaries which would give us a discretionary grant fund of around £3.7 million. 

However, Brighton & Hove was allocated £82.9 million from the government in total, leaving a potential unallocated fund of a further £5.7m. The council would like to be able to spend all of this on discretionary grants for businesses.

Councillor Platts said: “We know the funds we are allowed to spend won’t stretch to cover every business in need but we can see the potential to help more businesses than government rules currently allow. I will be asking the government to make all of the remaining small business grant fund available to spend on discretionary grants so that we can help more businesses to survive the public health crisis and rebuild a thriving local economy.

“We have a strong and creative small business sector in Brighton & Hove but the impact of the pandemic could see many of them go under unless they are supported to recover. This will have a knock-on effect for local jobs, so investing in our small businesses now will support long-term employment and our residents’ livelihoods.”

The government announced the discretionary fund at the beginning of May. This was followed by guidance to local authorities on 13 May on how to administer it.

Discretionary fund amounts

The guidance sets out three levels of grants: 

  • £25,000
  • £10,000
  • Any amounts under £10,000

What happens next

Once agreed, guidance about who can apply and an application process will be posted on our Covid-19 business support web page.

We’ll also provide regular updates on our discretionary fund and when it will be open for applications.

How our discretionary grant is worked out

The government allocated £82.9 million to Brighton & Hove for small business grants. 

We expect to pay £73.5 million in small business grants, based on our data which shows we have around 5,500 eligible businesses. 

This figure was provided to government on 4 May and was used to set our discretionary grant fund.

The discretionary grant fund is £3.7 million, which is 5% of the £73.5 million.

The £5.7 million is what we estimate will be left over from the government’s allocation once the grants have been spent. 

More support for local business

As part of the council’s support for small businesses we are also proposing to:

  • Underwrite income to the Brilliant Brighton Business Improvement District (BID) for 2020/2021, up to a maximum of £350,000
  • Waive the business membership fees for Visit Brighton for 2020/2021 for six months to a maximum cost of £100,000
  • Allocate £15,000 from the 2020/2021 Economic Development Budget to cover the operating costs of the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership.

View the Covid-19: Support for Businesses report (agenda item number 6). You will be able to watch the committee on the webcast.

Small business grants

We’ve distributed £63 million-worth of small business grants to more than 4,600 businesses.

Despite regularly contacting all small businesses in the city who are eligible for a small business grant there are still up to 800 who have yet to get in touch. 

If you are: 

  • A leisure, retail or hospitality business you could be eligible a non-refundable £25,000 grant
  • A small business in receipt of 100% business rate relief you could be eligible for a non-refundable £10,000 grant

Find out if you are eligible and send us your details through our secure portal.

We have also provided £70 million in business rates relief to nearly 2,800 businesses. 

More information on small business grants and the discretionary fund guidance at gov.uk


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