Discretionary Grants Scheme

Below is the policy for our Discretionary Grants Scheme. Please note the application process for this scheme has now closed.

Discretionary Grants Scheme Policy

1. The government has announced a further round of grant funding following the Small Business Grants and Retail and Leisure Grants in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The new Ashford Discretionary Grants Scheme will administer 5% of the value of the Small Business, and Retail and Leisure Grants fund, so it is expected that Ashford Borough Council will be able to administer £1,427,750 in additional grants.

2. The 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).

3. This scheme will be open to companies and charities that are ineligible for other grants schemes listed in section 9.3.  Companies eligible and applying for the Job Retention Scheme or the Self Employment Income Support Scheme will be eligible for the Ashford Discretionary Grants Scheme.

4. The government have identified 4 priority groups for discretionary grants (identified in section 12), and these are prioritised in the Ashford Discretionary Grants Scheme as Priority 1 applications.

5. The application process will be open from 28 May 2020 for a 3 week period and will close at 23.59 on 17 June 2020. Other small businesses will be able to apply for grants where they have fixed property costs and have suffered a significant fall in income due to the Covid-19 crisis, but will only receive funding once the Priority 1 grants have been paid and if sufficient funding is still available.

6. Grants will be paid at a fixed rate based on the size and type of business up to the levels set out in this section. Small businesses (less than 50 employees and not more than £10.2 million turnover) will be eligible for grants of up to £10,000, Micro businesses (not more than 10 employees and not more than £632,000 turnover) will be eligible for grants of up to £5,000.  B&B’s will be eligible for grants of up to £5,000 and Market Traders will be eligible for grants of up to £1,000. Charities will be eligible for grants of up to £10,000.

7. Once all applications have been assessed, the grants will be administered as set out in Section 6.  If the fund is oversubscribed grants will be paid out to eligible companies in the Priority 1 list first, based on the amount of funding available up to the caps set out in section 6. If funding is available following the administering of grants to Priority 1 businesses, Priority 2 and then Priority 3 companies will be considered.

8. Businesses will need to demonstrate both high fixed property costs (at least 15% of total turnover) and considerable loss of income (reduction by 30% or more). Evidence will need to be provided for property costs and loss of income for the assessment period of 1st March 2020 to 30th April 2020.

9. Applicants will be required to provide evidence to support the eligibility of the business for the scheme and to determine the level of grant awarded. The types of evidence to be provided includes:

  • Business registration and trading on 11 March 2020 - Companies House registration, FCA, Charities Commission registration, HMRC correspondence
  • Loss of income due to COVID in March and April 2020 - Documents from your Bank, Accountant or Financial Advisors to demonstrate comparison with March and April 2019 or expected forecasts for March and April 2020
  • Total income and balance sheet total in 2019/20 - Financial accounts for 2019/20
  • Monthly costs , including fixed costs, in March and April 2020 - Bank account statements, annual rent or mortgage statements; lease/rent/mortgage agreements

Eligibility Criteria

10. Businesses must demonstrate that:

10.1. Businesses were trading on 11 March 2020, and are not in administration, insolvent or where a striking off notice has been made.

10.2. The business operates from premises in the borough of Ashford.

10.3. Businesses have not accessed and are not eligible for other grant funding from government:

10.3.1. Small Business Grant Fund

10.3.2. Retail, Hospitality, Leisure Grant Fund

10.3.3. The Fisheries Response Fund

10.3.4. Domestic Seafood Supply Scheme

10.3.5. The Zoos Support Scheme

10.3.6. The Dairy Hardship Fund

10.4. Businesses are Small and Micro companies with fewer than 50 employees and under £10.2 million turnover.

10.5. Businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs.

10.6. Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the Coronavirus crisis.

10.7. Businesses are eligible for grants under the EU State Aid De Minimis rules or the COVID-19 Temporary Framework for UK Authorities.

Additional guidance

11. This grant scheme will be predominantly for businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000. Businesses over this threshold will be considered as Priority 3 Applications if sufficient funds are available.

The Discretionary Grant is considered State Aid and Local Authorities have a discretion to make payments to eligible recipients under either the De Minimis rules or the COVID-19 Temporary Framework for UK Authorities (provided all the relevant conditions are met). Ashford Borough Council will be issuing payments of up to and including £10,000 which can be provided under the De Minimis rules.

As these grants are deemed State Aid there is a possible impact on a company’s tax relief, which each company will need to consider prior to an application being submitted. State Aid has been increased although there is no opportunity to reverse the grant payment once made, so please check your position before submitting your application. The Kent and Medway Growth Hub (03333 602300) will be able to answer any questions on this matter.

Grant levels

12. Grants of between £1,000 and £10,000 as set out in Section 6.

Prioritisation of applications

13. Priority 1 Applications (as specified by Central Government):

  • Businesses in shared space premises who don’t pay the business rates bill.
  • Regular Market Traders, who do not have their own business rates assessment.
  • Small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief or rural rates relief.
  • Bed and Breakfasts providing serviced accommodation who pay Council Tax.

14. Priority 2 Applications:

  • Businesses that form part of the supply chain for the Tourism, Leisure, Retail and Hospitality sector that can demonstrate high fixed property costs and considerable loss of income, and where 50% of their turnover is from these sectors. Tourism, Leisure, Retail and Hospitality have seen considerable closures, which have significantly impacted their supply chains through loss of orders and demand.

15. Priority 3 Applications:

  • Small businesses that can demonstrate high fixed property costs and considerable loss of income.

Make an application

The Ashford Discretionary Grants Scheme is currently closed for applications.

If you have any enquiries about the Discretionary Grants Scheme then please email discretionary.grants@ashford.gov.uk.