A discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme, the government has announced, 2 May.

Business secretary Alok Sharma (pictured) and the minister for regional growth and local government, Simon Clarke, have spoken to local authorities to set out a plan to make available a further £617m.

This is an additional 5% uplift to the £12.33bn funding previously announced for the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF).

The government has said it will confirm the exact amount available to each local authority next week.

The additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs.

The business secretary has asked local authorities to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates. However, local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic needs. The allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities.

The criteria laid out on the government’s website notes that businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to Covid-19 restriction measures.

There will be three levels of grant payments, with the maximum being £25,000. Local authorities will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. It will be for councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances. Further guidance for local authorities will issued in the coming days, the government said.

Image: Downing Street official press team