Additional Restrictions Grant (Discretionary) (ARG)

Businesses that pay Business Rates and are required to close in England due to the 28-day national lockdown that started on 5th November will be eligible to apply for the Local Restrictions Support Grant.

 

The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) scheme is now live - please read the policy below before clicking the button at the bottom of the page to apply.

ARG Policy

On Saturday 31 October the Government announced new lockdown measures and has provided funding to support businesses that are required to close due to the restrictions being put in place to manage coronavirus and save lives. 

Part of the financial measures announced are grants for businesses that have been forced to close under the latest lockdown measures. Businesses required to close in England due to local or national restrictions (listed on the government website) will be eligible for the following Local Restriction Support Grant (LRSG):

  • For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, grants to be £1,334 per 28-day qualifying restriction period
  • For properties with a rateable value of over £15k and below £51k, grants to be £2,000 per 28-day qualifying restriction period
  • For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over grants to be £3,000 per 28-day qualifying restriction period

For more information on the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) and to make a claim for this separate scheme visit our LRSG page.

The Government recognised that some businesses that are required to close may not have rateable commercial premises (and therefore won’t be covered by the LRSG scheme), and others won’t have been forced to close, but they will be significantly financially impacted. As such Local Authorities have been allocated Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG), which will cover businesses that fall into these categories.

This grants scheme is fully funded by Central Government and the funds will be administered by Ashford Borough Council in accordance with the guidance issued by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Deadline / Timeline

Grants will be initially administered for the 28 day period of the National Lockdown from Thursday 5th November 2020.  Applications for the Additional Restrictions Grant will need to be submitted using the online form within 30 days of a national or local lockdown ceasing to be in place. In the event that you do not have access to the online form, a Microsoft Word or PDF version can be emailed to you as long as a request for the form is submitted up to 48 hours prior to the deadline. Requests need to be submitted by email or telephone to discretionary.grants@ashford.gov.uk or 01233 331111.

Applications will be considered over the coming weeks and applicants notified of the outcome as soon as possible, with payments being made within a week of the decision notification.

This ARG funding will be available for the period announced under the new restrictions starting on 5 November until 2 December. Beyond this time, this policy will be reviewed if a national or localised lockdown is implemented or extended.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. This funding is available for business that have been forced to close, where companies are not covered under the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) Scheme, but have significant fixed costs which are not related to employment*.
  2. Businesses significantly affected** by business closures caused by national restrictions announced on 31 October 2020 and that come into force on the 5th November 2020. This grant will not be administered for periods of impact before these dates. These businesses will include those that provide products and services to the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors, or businesses in the events sector, that have been forced to close during the second national lockdown.
  3. Businesses with a registered address in the Ashford Borough Council area will be eligible for this scheme. The business will need to be trading*** within the Ashford Borough. Where a business is registered in another council area (although has a presence in the Ashford Borough) the council will take a discretionary view on a case-by-case basis.****
  4. The business must have been actively trading on and before the 4 November 2020.
  5. Discretionary Grants will be paid subject to State Aid regulations, meaning the business needs to check that they comply with State Aid rules and inform the Local Authority accordingly prior to payment being made. If State Aid rules are breached the responsibility lies with the applicant and, in line with the legislations, the Council can take action to recover the funding.
  6. Top Up grants for the Local Restriction Support Grant scheme will not be paid out to businesses except in exceptional circumstances where this is essential to support the wider local economy. Where businesses feel they fit this criteria, contact with the council will need to be made prior to an application being accepted.

* Fixed Costs – any costs relating to the operation of the business that cannot be cancelled during this period. These could include property costs such as rent for non-rateable commercial premises, utilities, etc. Fixed costs do not include employee costs.

** Significant Impact – A statement will be required from the company showing that at least 50% of their revenue comes from businesses required to close within the defined sectors in point 2 above, and that this will have an impact on their income of at least 30%.

***Trading – a business that even if not registered within the borough on Companies House, has a presence in the area and is clearly trading from an address within the borough.

**** Market Traders – Market Traders will be paid by the Local Authority where their home address or commercial premises address is. The location of the markets they attend will not be considered as part of this grant scheme apart from in exceptional circumstances.

Exclusions to the Additional Restrictions Grant (Discretionary)

  • Businesses that are able to continue to trade and can operate their services effectively remotely.
  • Businesses that have chosen to close but not been required to will not be eligible for this grant, unless they can demonstrate Significant Impact** through cancelled orders for products and services to closed businesses in the retail, hospitality, leisure or events sectors.
  • Businesses which have already received grant payments that equal the maximum levels of State aid permitted under the de minimis and the Covid-19 Temporary State Aid Framework.
  • For the avoidance of doubt, businesses that are in administration, insolvent or where a striking-off notice has been made, are not eligible for funding under this scheme.

Grant Levels

Business can receive up to a maximum of £3,000 for any given property***** over a 28-day period. In exceptional circumstances a higher level of grant may be awarded at the discretion of the council and subject to the level of funds available at the time of applying. Significant additional amounts of evidence will need to be provided in order to be considered for a higher level of grant.

Grants will be awarded on a first come first served basis within the funding allocation limits of the scheme agreed by the Council.

Indicative amounts for priority groups – The ARG scheme will follow the Local Restrictions Support Grant Scheme for the amounts paid.

  • For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, grants to be £1,334 per 28-day qualifying restriction period
  • For properties with a rateable value of over £15k and below £51k, grants to be £2,000 per 28-day qualifying restriction period
  • For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over grants to be £3,000 per 28-day qualifying restriction period

Where a property does not have a rateable value or is part of a larger rateable value, rents paid, the size of the business and projected impact will be used to provide a professional judgement by officers on the level of grant that should be applied.  For Market Traders and B&B accommodation, these will be set up to a maximum of the lower level of £1,334 per 28-day qualifying restriction period.

Where the impact on businesses can be identified to be lower than £1,334, officers will have discretion to administer grants at a lower level to reflect the financial impact on income.

***** Property – a business that has more than one property will be eligible to submit an application for each actively trading property.

Evidence

Closed businesses applying for ARG (Discretionary) funding will be required to make a statement that confirms their eligibility. The council places responsibility on the applicant to agree that their statement is correct to the best of their knowledge. In addition, businesses that are required to close will need to provide evidence of their trading status. This will be in the form of a bank statement (showing business/applicant’s name, registered address with income within the last 3 months).

Open businesses that are applying for ARG (Discretionary) funding will be required to make a statement that confirms their eligibility. The council places responsibility on the applicant to agree that their statement is correct to the best of their knowledge. In addition, businesses that are not required to close will need to provide evidence to demonstrate they supply companies that are required to close and an impact on income. This will be in the form of a bank statement (showing the business name or applicant’s name, registered address with income within the last 3 months) and an invoice (showing the business name, client name and registered address dated within the last 3 months).

Appeals

An appeals process will be in place where a business disputes the decision made by the council. The appellant will need to email discretionary.grants@ashford.gov.uk requesting an appeal within 1 week of receiving a decision notification. Appeals will need to include a statement providing additional information and supporting evidence. The application and appeal documents will be considered by an appeals panel chaired by the Director of Finance and Economy.  The panel will make its recommendation and Director of Finance and Economy will act as the final arbiter and will make a final decision. The appellant will subsequently be notified of the outcome of their appeal.

Queries

All enquiries about this grant funding and this policy should contact the Economic Development Team using the email address discretionary.grants@ashford.gov.uk.

Applications

Page 2 of 2
Frequently Asked Questions

+ How do I know if my business is eligible for the Additional Restrictions Grant (Discretionary) (ARG)?

Ashford Borough Council’s policy for this grant is available online. It outlines two main sets of criteria that would make a business eligible:

  1. A business has been required to close under the latest lockdown measures and is not liable to pay business rates, but has significant fixed costs not related to employment.
  2. A business is not required to close, they may pay business rates or not, but has been severely impacted because other businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors that they supply have been forced to close.

You can check if your business is required to close under the latest lockdown measures using the Government’s list.

+ Can you give me examples of eligible businesses?

Examples could include:

A B&B, which has been required to close under the latest measures, does not pay business rates so cannot claim the main Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) and could therefore apply for the ARG (Discretionary).

A café that is located within another business. The café is required to close (except for takeaway activity) under the lockdown measures but is not liable for the business rates as the larger business pays those. They are not on the business rates list so can’t claim the main LRSG and could then apply for the ARG (Discretionary).

A supplier to hotels and hospitality venues. They are not required to close and have a warehouse which they pay business rates for. Because they are not required to close they would not be eligible for the main LRSG. They can apply for the ARG (Discretionary) as long as 50% of their trade is with those businesses required to close and they forecast that this would impact their income by over 30%.

+ How will you decide how much money a business gets?

As this is a discretionary fund, the council will take a number of factors into account when deciding on the amount of grant funding to award an eligible business. Where the business is liable to pay business rates, the same levels as the main LRSG will apply (see the policies for both schemes). If the business is not liable to pay business rates then the business size, together with any rents paid and projected impact on income will be used to assess the level of grant.

+ When do I need to apply by?

Ashford’s ARG (Discretionary) follows Government guidelines to allow for the scheme to end or be extended depending on the duration of a national or local lockdown. The current policy applies to the lockdown started on 5 November 2020 and expected to end 2 December 2020. The policy explains that the deadline is set at 30 days from the end of a national or local lockdown. Under the current circumstances the deadline would be 8 January 2021 (taking account of the Christmas period) however this will vary if other measures are extended or introduced. Keep checking the council’s Coronavirus Advice for Business page where any deadlines will be updated.

+ Are applications considered on a first-come first-serve basis?

Applications will be assessed in the order that they are received.

+ Why is your scheme different to other councils’ schemes?

The Government has provided every council with a sum of money to provide financial support to businesses over the coming months, triggered by the latest lockdown measures. The guidance to Local Authorities explains that councils have discretion to determine which businesses to support and how much funding to provide. Ashford has sought to provide assistance through this scheme to as many businesses as possible that are likely to be highly impacted by the lockdown measures.

+ Are Parish councils eligible for this fund?

Yes Parish councils are eligible as long as they meet the criteria set out in our policy. Ashford Borough Council and Kent County Council premises will not be eligible.

+ Are self-employed businesses eligible for this fund?

Yes self-employed businesses are eligible as long as they meet the criteria set out in our policy. This scheme is not intended to pay the wages of employees, it is there to support businesses with significant fixed costs.  Other schemes are available to cover wages for furloughed or Self-employed.

+ How will this grant be distributed if two or more businesses share a property?

The council will make an assessment based on the application received. Where there is a business that is liable to pay business rates, that business would be able to apply for the LRSG or the ARG. Any additional businesses operating from those premises would need to apply and provide a clear explanation of their situation and demonstrate the impact lockdown is having on their business.

+ If I don’t agree with the amount of funding I’ve been given, what do I do?

The policy on the website explains the appeals process whereby you will need to send an email to discretionary.grants@ashford.gov.uk stating your case for receiving more funding and providing additional evidence to support this. Appeals need to be submitted within 7 days of receiving the notification that a grant would be paid. Appeals will not be considered if there is no new evidence provided. Appeals will be taken to a panel, chaired by the council’s Director of Finance and Economy who will make a decision. You would then receive an email informing you of the outcome and if more funding is being given to you then that would be issued within the following 7-14 days.

+ Is this grant subject to tax?

Yes this grant funding is subject to tax and will need to be considered for tax returns purposes. Only businesses that make an overall profit once grant income is included will be subject to tax.

+ Can the council take back the money?

Applicants are required to provide true and accurate information as part of the application process. The council will do necessary checks to assess the application and HMRC will likely do follow-up checks on these grants. If it is found that the information supplied in the applications form was incorrect then the council can claim back the money it has issued.

+ What is State Aid and does it apply to this grant and me?

State Aid is the award of financial support to companies from public authorities within the EU, where some companies may gain an advantage as not all companies are entitled to receive this funding. The De Minimis Regulations EC 1407/2013 allow a company to receive up to 800,000 Euros (£715,076 as at November 2020) aid over a rolling three-year period. State Aid can apply to grants, loans and tax breaks. The ARG (and wider grant scheme from Government) is not open to all businesses and is a grant provided by a public authority, therefore it is subject to State Aid rules. You will need to check that you have not received more than the equivalent sum of 800,000 Euros from public authorities over the past three years. If you are awarded a grant, a State Aid declaration form will also be sent to you to complete so it is important that you check if you have received funding from public authorities. If you have never received funding from public authorities you would not need to complete this form.

Find out more about State Aid.

+ What do ‘in administration’, ‘insolvent’ and ‘striking-off notice’ mean?

  • In administration: When a company goes into administration, they have entered a legal process (under the Insolvency Act 1986) with the aim of achieving one of the statutory objectives of an administration. This may be to rescue a viable business that is insolvent due to cashflow problems. An appointment of an administrator (a licensed insolvency practitioner) will be made by directors, a creditor or the court to fulfil the administration process.
  • Insolvent: An insolvent company is one that’s in danger of closing down. Classic tests for insolvency are:
    • being unable to meet financial obligations as they fall due
    • where the total value of company assets is less than money owed

An insolvent company could take action including seeking a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) or place the company in administration, change repayment terms with HMRC for unpaid tax and other such measures.

  • A striking-off notice applies to a company, registered on Companies House, that no longer carries on business or is in operation. If a company is neither carrying on business nor operation, the registrar may take action to strike a company off the register. The registrar may take this action if they have reasonable cause to believe that a company is not carrying on business or is in operation. If you are registered on Companies House, this will appear on your record.