Discretionary Grants for Small Businesses

business support

Alert

Discretionary Grants 

Applications for Discretionary Grants will close at 5pm on 28 August 2020

The Government has directed councils to close their Discretionary Grant schemes to new applications on 28 August. Businesses wishing to apply for a Discretionary Grant are strongly advised to submit their application well in advance of this deadline as applicants will not have the chance to resubmit a rejected application after this date.

Two new categories of grants have been added and applications from nurseries and businesses without commercial property costs will now be considered.

What are Discretionary Grants?

Grants of up to £25,000 can now be claimed by certain Waltham Forest small businesses that have been affected by the Coronavirus. 

Provided all eligibility criteria are met, grants are available to: 

  • NEW: Ofsted registered private and voluntary nurseries;
  • NEW: Businesses without commercial property costs;
  • Larger Hospitality and Leisure sector businesses;
  • Businesses using shared workspaces; 
  • Council licensed, permanent and casual market traders; 
  • Charities and community interest companies with a business rates assessments below £100,000; 
  • Suppliers to the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors;  
  • Community cafes based in borough parks; and 
  • Bed and breakfasts paying council tax. 

When you apply you will be asked to choose which of these categories you fall within and you must satisfy the corresponding eligibility criteria set out below.

Nurseries

The organisation must be an Ofsted registered private or voluntary Nursery, providing Childcare on non-domestic properties to children under the age of 5 years.

Grant tiers for rates liable nurseries

If the organisation is directly liable for business rates the grant will be based on the rateable value of the premises.

  • £5,000 is available for those nurseries with a rateable value of up to £15,000. 
  • £10,000 is available for those nurseries with a rateable value of £15,001 to £51,000. 
  • £25,000 is available for those nurseries with a rateable value of £51,001 to £100,000. 

Grant tiers for nurseries not liable for business rates

For nurseries without business rates liability, the value of the grant will depend on the registered number of placements previously notified to the Council.

 Number of placements 

 Grant awarded 

 65 or more

 £9,000

 55 - 64

 £6,429

 40 - 54

 £4,500

 8 - 39

 £2,500

Businesses without commercial property costs

To be eligible the business owner must be a resident of Waltham Forest and have no commercial property costs, but be able to demonstrate other unavoidable and significant fixed costs met by the business.

This might include:

  • Commercial vehicle leasing;
  • A home office, but only where the property costs are clearly and separately met by the business (fixed property costs include rent or mortgage, but does not include utilities or other variable costs);
  • Other non-commercial property costs, such as storage hire, venue hire;
  • Contracted, fixed cost of business services, e.g. subscriptions, professional fees, software licences.

This does not include:

  • Day to day business running costs, such as salaries, stock purchase, one off purchases;
  • Loan or credit repayments for running costs.

In order to meet the Government's rules that applicants have relatively high ongoing fixed costs, applications will need to evidence through contracts or agreements, invoices and bank statements that costs were in place prior to 11 March 2020 and that these costs continued to be met by the applicant for three months after 11 March 2020.

The total value of these costs, for the 12 months prior to 11 June 2020, must total more than £5,000 to be eligible for a grant.

A grant of £2,500 is available for those businesses which qualify.  

Hospitality and Leisure

The business must be wholly or predominantly be a hospitality or leisure business that was required to close by the Government on 23 March. This excludes all retail, but includes pubs, restaurants, gyms, cafes and other hospitality and leisure businesses.

The business must have premises with a rateable value greater than £51,000 and up to £100,000. 

Businesses operating from more than 5 business rated premises are not eligible for a grant.

A single grant tier of £25,000 is available for those businesses which qualify.  

Businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces 

You must be using a commercial space where an all-inclusive rent, license or similar fee is paid and the business does not have a direct business rates liability. 

The business must be non-transient and exclusively using the workspace, with liabilities for occupancy (lease, license, contract etc) of at least four weeks, inclusive of 11 March 2020. 

Such spaces include: co-working offices; maker spaces; business incubators; artist studios and other flexible workspaces. 

Offices or workspaces within domestic dwellings (e.g. home offices); self-storage units; virtual offices and post boxes; and short-term hall/venue hire are not considered an ongoing fixed property-related cost. 

Grant amounts are calculated on the basis of fixed property costs.  

Band 

Annual fixed property cost 

Grant 

> £11,000 

£7,500 

£6, 001 - £11,000 

£4,435 

£3,251 - £6,000 

£2,530 

Up to £3,250 

£1,170 

For example, a business with annual rent of £7,500 will be in ‘Band B’ and will be considered for a grant of £4,435. 

Market traders

To be eligible for a grant you must be either: 

  • a permanent trader; or  

  • a casual trader that has been trading in Waltham Forest 3 days or more per week (on average), over at least a 12 month period prior to March 2020

You must also be directly licensed by the Council’s Street Trading Team, (e.g. permanent Walthamstow Market trader, forecourt trader) and have no more than two months fees in arrears. 

Those trading from third party markets, either licensed by the Council or managed privately, are not eligible for this grant.  

Grant amounts are calculated on the basis of fixed property costs of pitch and Council storage fees.   

Band 

Annual fixed fees 

Grant 

> £7,000 

£4,700 

£5,600 - £6,999 

£3,000 

£3,150 - £5,599 

£1,970 

< £3,150 

£1,080 

For example, a trader with pitch and storage fees of £6,000 will be in ‘Band B’ and will be considered for a grant of £3,000. 

Supplier Businesses 

To be eligible for a grant, the customers of the applicant must be wholly or predominantly other businesses required to close by the Government on 23 March. 

For the avoidance of doubt, if your customers are the general public, you are not eligible for this particular grant.

In order to support those businesses needing the most assistance, businesses must be able to demonstrate they have suffered a severe loss of income (over 65%) due to the Covid-19 crisis. 

The business must have premises with a rateable value between £15,001 and £100,000. 

Grant tiers 

  • £10,000 is available for those businesses with a rateable value of £15,001 to £51,000
  • £25,000 is available for those businesses with a rateable value of £51,001 to £100,000. 

Charities

To be eligible for a grant charities must occupy a commercial property that has a rateable value below £100,000 and have been in receipt of Mandatory (charitable) Rate Relief. 

Grant tiers 

  • £5,000 is available for those charities with a rateable value of up to £15,000. 

  • £10,000 is available for those charities with a rateable value of £15,001 to £51,000. 

  • £25,000 is available for those charities with a rateable value of £51,001 to £100,000. 

Community Interest Companies (CIC) 

To be eligible for a grant the applicant must be registered with Companies House as a CIC and must occupy a commercial property that has a rateable value below £100,000. 

Grant tiers 

  • £5,000 is available for those CICs with a rateable value of up to £15,000. 

  • £10,000 is available for those CICs with a rateable value of £15,001 to £51,000. 

  • £25,000 is available for those CICs with a rateable value of £51,001 to £100,000. 

Community cafes within borough parks 

To be eligible for a grant the applicant must have a lease or license with the Council to operate a café from a Council park. 

A single grant tier of £5,000 is available for those Cafes which qualify.  

Bed & Breakfasts

To be eligible for a grant the premises must be registered for Council tax and not business rates. 

The premises must be wholly or mainly used as guest or boarding premises, providing at least one meal per day,  within the price. 

Spare room, short-term lets, Houses of Multiple Occupation and ‘Air BnB’ style accommodation do not qualify for a grant. 

A single grant tier of £5,000 is available for those Bed and Breakfasts which qualify. 

Universal criteria that applies to all applicants 

  • Businesses with unavoidable, ongoing, significant fixed costs.
  • Businesses that can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income in the three months after Covid lockdown.  
  • Businesses with a balance sheet of not more than £5.1m.
  • Businesses with a turnover of less than £10.2m per year. 
  • Businesses with a staff headcount of fewer than 50. 
  • Businesses that were trading on 11 March 2020 and are still trading (i.e. solvent, not in administration). 

Businesses not eligible for a grant

Regardless of an applicant being able to meet the criteria above, businesses will not be eligible for a grant if any of the following apply: 

  • Businesses eligible for / have been paid a Small Business Grant of £10,000 

  • Business eligible for / have been paid a Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grant of £10,000 or £25,000

  • Businesses which have received cash grants from any central government Covid-19 related scheme (excluding: Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme).

  • Organisations in administration, are insolvent, or where a striking-off notice has been made.

  • Businesses that have exceeded state aid limits are not eligible for the scheme, i.e. have not received more than €200,000 in Government funds / support over the last three years.

  • Businesses with significant reserves.

  • Businesses that do not pay all, or the bulk of business taxes in the UK, such as those with offshore accounts.

Ineligible businesses may be able to access other government support.  

How to apply 

Businesses must apply to the Council with information about their business and evidence relating to the eligibility criteria.   

Please ensure you understand and meet the eligibility criteria before submitting an application. We will not be able to seek clarifications or additional information from an applicant and incomplete or poorly evidenced applications will be rejected.  

Evidence required 

When you submit an application, you will be required to provide documentary evidence that the business meets the criteria, e.g. 

  • Copies of your personal identification: a passport, national ID card or driving license.
  • Copies of your latest rent or membership invoice.  
  • Copy of your current lease.
  • Copies of bank statements including your most recent statement. 
  • Documents or evidence that prove the significant reduction in income your business, which must include your last three years of annual accounts. Previous years business accounts also help prove your eligibility by turnover and profit. They also demonstrate the financial loss your business has suffered since lockdown/Covid-19. However, if you have not filed recent accounts, previous accounts may not show the businesses’ true financial situation pre Covid. In this case, please provide additional evidence, such as VAT returns or bank statements pre and post the Covid-19 lockdown in addition to draft management accounts. 
  • Evidence that your business is still trading, such as recent invoices, marketing evidence, or social media posts 

Every application and its supporting evidence will be rigorously checked for eligibility. Speculative or false applications will be rejected. Applications suspected as fraudulent will be investigated.

Hundreds of grants are available and we do not have the resources to seek any clarifications from applicants so incomplete applications without clear evidence will be rejected. 

A new application will then be necessary and the Council accepts no liability for subsequent applications being turned down, if the application window has closed in the intervening time.

It is critical that you understand the  criteria and guidance above before submitting the application form. 

Complete the Application Form

What happens after I've submitted my details? 

Using the information provided by you, we will carry out due diligence checks and review the evidence that you submitted to ensure your business qualifies. 

How long will it take to pay a grant? 

We aim to complete due diligence within ten working days and you should allow at least an additional five working days for the banks to process payment. 

It is not possible to provide a precise turnaround time for payment as this is dependent on factors such as the backlog of submissions and the complexities of some businesses in relation to the eligibility criteria. 

Payments will be made to those who qualify by BACS. We will also write to you by email, stating the reasons, if your business does not qualify. 

What happens if my grant is rejected?

Applications that do not sufficiently evidence eligibility for a grant will be rejected. Applicants will receive an email setting out the reasons for rejection and where appropriate may be asked to resubmit an application, provided improved evidence can be produced.

Who should I contact if I haven’t heard about my grant? 

We expect to receive a high number of enquiries asking for updates and we recognise how vital these grants are to you – however we have limited capacity to respond to update requests, which takes focus away from processing grants.

Unless it has been more than 15 working days since your application, we will not be able to provide you with an update on the status of your application.

If it is more than 15 days since you have applied for a grant, or if you have other queries about the Discretionary Grant, please contact us through this online form.

Important notes 

  • Only one grant per business will be paid, regardless of number of premises (with the exception of market pitchers).
  • Grants will be awarded to businesses that meet all the criteria on a first come, first served basis. 
  • Applications close on 28 August or when all grants have been awarded.
  • Submitting an application and meeting the eligibility criteria does not guarantee approval of a grant. 
  • It may take 15 working days or more to process an application and a grant to be paid. 
  • There will be no appeals process. 

The Council may without notice amend the eligibility criteria and invite other businesses to apply for grants. 

Important: Beware of scammers  

Please beware of third parties offering to act on your behalf for a fee. The grant application process is free, straightforward and only requires you to provide information already available to you. Businesses should not need to pay third parties to access a grant. 

Scam emails are also being sent to businesses, falsely claiming to be from the Council, saying that businesses have been paid grants in error and they need to returned and include bank details for payments to be made. These emails should be ignored.