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Additional Restrictions Grant (Discretionary) (ARG)

The Additional Restrictions Grant scheme is closed to new applications as of 23:59 on Sunday 28 February 2021. From 1 April 2021 we are prioritising ARG support to those businesses that have received ARG previously or Expressions of Interest.

 

Businesses that have a Business Rates account and are required to close in England by law for any of the national restriction – or local restriction – periods will be eligible to apply for the Local Restrictions Support Grant. Businesses with a Business Rates account in certain sectors may be eligible for the Restart Grant.

We are also providing discretionary support for businesses affected by the lockdown and ongoing restrictions. This scheme covers the period from 1 April 2021 onwards.

Our scheme will help those businesses that:

  • have been forced to close but don't have a business rates liability because they are not separately rated (for example market traders or shared accommodation where the landlord pays the business rates), or they are in the council tax list (such as B&Bs).
  • have a business rates liability and are allowed to remain open, but are being severely impacted by the national lockdown because their main customers have been forced to close (such as suppliers to the retail, hospitality and leisure industries).
  • are in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, but are not in the ratings list.

Policy

View the Additional Restrictions Grant (Discretionary) Restart Policy.

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.

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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.

+ Why has this scheme closed to new applications?

The Additional Restrictions Grant Scheme was open to applications from November 2020 until 28 February 2021. We have received a high volume of applications and, due to the financial limitations available for this grant, we have had to close to new applicants.

If you believe you are eligible and have not already applied, please email discretionary.grants@ashford.gov.uk by the end of April 2021 to register on an Expressions of Interest list.

+ 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 are the Subsidy Control / Subsidy Allowances and State Aid?

State Aid regulations have changed following the UK’s departure from the EU. As such businesses will need to check they are complying with the allowances set out under the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA).

Three allowance levels can be considered which include:

  • the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance
  • the COVID-19 Business Grant Allowance
  • the COVID-19 Business Grant Special Allowance.

It is the business’ responsibility to ensure they comply with the criteria set out in those schemes and inform the Local Authority accordingly prior to payment being made. If these rules are breached the responsibility lies with the applicant and, in line with the legislations, the Council can take action to recover the funding.

An explanation of the new subsidy allowances can be found on page 13 of the ARG guidance to Local Authorities.

+ 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.