Published on 26th June 2020

Four district councils pay out loans to local businesses

304 eligible businesses across the county have collectively received £3.34m total in grants this week thanks to a discretionary business grant scheme.

The fund, which launched on 9 June, was prioritised for small businesses who were not eligible for support in the previous scheme.

The scheme, which has now closed, is the work of four local councils - Cheltenham, Gloucester, Stroud and Tewkesbury - working in collaboration to ensure effective and fair distribution of the discretionary grant funding. Advice from local BIDs (business improvement districts) and Gfirst LEP (local enterprise partnership) was also drawn upon.

The authorities’ chief finance officers said: ‘’We are pleased to have been able to get so many of these grants paid out so quickly and hope that it gives these businesses the boost that they need. We are continuing to assess applications and if they meet the eligibility within the policy then subsequent payments will be made.    

“It was important to ensure a consistent approach for businesses across our region so that they have clarity and certainty that this money will go to where it is needed most, in line with the guidance provided to us. The application window was limited to a two week period as we had limited funds for this scheme.

“We are extremely pleased we were able to target those businesses identified by GfirstLEP and other consultees. Boutique hotels, pubs, restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality sector have all secured £25k which will give those businesses a fighting chance to recover. It is so rewarding to have been able to make a real difference to those in genuine need this time around.”

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This shared scheme builds on the significant rapid support to local businesses over the past few weeks, with the four councils collectively paying out £83.6m in grants to 7,068 businesses.

The decision to approve the scheme has been through each individual council’s approval process.

The full criteria can be found on each council’s website:

The grants have been primarily aimed at:

  • Small and micro businesses
  • Businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs 
  • 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.

The councils’ shared policy allows for some discretion but the government has prioritised the following types of businesses to be included in schemes:

  • Small businesses in 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; and
  • Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for small business rates relief or rural rate relief.
  • The four council's agreed upon a fifth category which targeted businesses in the hospitality industry, for businesses with a rateable value between £51,000 and £105,000.