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Council Coronavirus scheme upgraded to provide support to more of York’s businesses

Published Friday, 22 May 2020

Local businesses which have so far missed out on government support could benefit from grants of up to £10,000, as the council extends its scheme for small and micro businesses in the city.

The grants aim to benefit small businesses including those in shared offices and flexible work spaces, science parks and incubators. Regular market traders without a business rates assessment. Nurseries, B&Bs paying council tax instead of business rates, and charity properties which all missed out under previous schemes will also be eligible.

Shortly after lockdown was implemented, City of York Council acted quickly to create its own £1m grant scheme for businesses which do not qualify for government support. To date, this scheme has helped nearly 800 local businesses.

Following lobbying efforts, the government has recognised the additional need for financial support and has provided a discretionary fund to local authorities. City of York Council received £2.21m of this funding and has agreed to use it to deliver more grants to the city’s small and micro businesses.

The grants will be staggered between £2500 and £10000, depending on the size and nature of the business, with the following available:

  • Small business and childcare nurseries set to receive: £10000
  • Micro business: £5000
  • B&Bs and market traders who live in York able to apply for: £2,500

Businesses must have been trading before 11 March 2020; have a rateable value or annual mortgage of below £51,000; demonstrate an ongoing fixed property cost and significant financial impact of the coronavirus. It is not available to any business eligible for any other government COVID grant.

The council will open applications for the enhanced grants from Monday 1 June and in the meantime, the Council will continue to process applications for the existing scheme, in order to ensure no business misses out on any funding, unless they do not meet the criteria. All outstanding applicants and previous grantees will be contacted by the council next week, as many will be eligible for a top-up under the enhanced scheme.

Businesses are advised to check the criteria closely and visit www.york.gov.uk/COVIDMicroGrant to prepare key information to apply online.

Councillor Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, said:

This is an exceptionally tough time for so many businesses, especially the small and micro enterprises that characterise York’s creative and independent economy.

"From the very beginning of this crisis, we have worked to ensure our local businesses received swift support from the Council, particularly those who did not meet the criteria for government support.

I am pleased that City of York Council has been recognized as one of the fastest local authorities in the country to distribute grants and rates relief, totaling £110m. We want to go further to support our business community and that is why we have set up this fund to give vital cash injections to small and micro businesses in the city."

Councillor Andrew Waller, executive member for the economy and strategic planning, said:

I’m extremely proud that we acted quickly to provide a lifeline to many who fell through the cracks of the government support, with nearly 800 small businesses receiving grants so far. Now the government has recognised this need, we can use the funds to give more support to help our businesses survive and adapt.

"We know there are still many York businesses who need more support, and we will continue to press government for more action on their behalf while looking at the local support we can offer."

The council acted quickly to distribute £110m of grants and rates relief to over 3000 York businesses, and created its own £1m grant scheme to benefit around 800 more which did not qualify for government support.

Under the discretionary fund, local authorities have been given an additional 5% of the total value of grants already distributed in York, and some outline guidance on which businesses should benefit. However, this means councils have to use local knowledge to decide how to fairly distribute the money to benefit as many businesses as possible.

Depending on the volume of applications and the amount of additional checking and verification required, the council aims to make weekly batches of payments starting on 8 June, and hope to pay all grants within four weeks.