Businesses urged to check eligibility for support grants ahead of deadline

7 August 2020

Business owners in South Lakeland are being urged to check whether they could be eligible for government grants before a scheme closes at the end of the month.

Nearly £60 million has so far been distributed by South Lakeland District Council (SLDC), under the Small Business and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure support grants scheme to more than 5,000 local businesses.

But we estimates there are still many businesses in the district that are eligible to apply for the £10k and £25k grants that have yet to come forward, and the government has announced that applications will close at midnight on 28 August 2020.

Councillor Robin Ashcroft, our portfolio holder Economy, Culture and Leisure, said: "We knew we had lots of businesses in South Lakeland that met the criteria for these grants and it has been a remarkable achievement to get nearly £60 million paid out to more than 5,000 businesses since the end of March, by far the highest amount of any authority in Cumbria.

"But we still believe there could be around 1,000 more businesses in the district that qualify that haven't so far applied, which means there is potentially millions of pounds of support there for them.''

We are keen to make sure everyone gets their share and is encouraging all small business owners to check if they should be getting some money. 

Businesses registered for business rates but who don't pay anything because they get rate relief can still be entitled to access these grants, particularly the Small Business Grant.

These are grants, which do not need to be paid back.

We launched our application process for the government Small Business and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure support grants on 27 March and invited eligible businesses to complete an online form.

Councillor Ashcroft continued: "Hundreds of businesses could still benefit from this crucial funding and I would urge any business owner who thinks there is even a small chance that they could be eligible to check if they should be getting a grant.

"Remember that even if you are registered for business rates but don't pay anything because you receive rates relief you could still be eligible. In that case you will still get a business rates bill with a nil demand, but you will have a business rates reference number, which is what you'll need to apply.

"If anybody thinks they know someone who could apply, please let them know. The application process is very straightforward and geared to ensuring we can receive applications, validate them and release the funds really quickly. Any businesses that have yet to apply can check online about eligibility criteria and to access the application form."

Covid-19 Business Grants

Businesses that fall under one of the following categories and believe they are eligible for the funding are being invited to complete the form:

  • Small business rate relief recipient
  • Rural rate relief recipient
  • Expanded retail discount scheme recipient

Please note that completing this form does not mean a business is eligible for the grants available, but it will allow the council to check details against its rating list and make a determination of eligibility against the criteria laid out by government.

Those eligible should receive the payment within 10 working days from receipt of a valid application.

Any businesses that apply but are not eligible will be sent an email setting out why they do not meet the criteria set out by government and will be signposted to other support they may be eligible for.

Important notes

  • Applying businesses will need to provide the reference number from a business rates bill to complete the grant application.

Please ensure you have your reference number to hand. If you are the registered rates payer you will receive a business rates bill, even if you are zero-rated for rates. The reference number will appear on any of your rates bills, you do not need your most recent bill.

This is an important security measure to protect the applicant against the risk of fraud and to ensure that we can validate the recipient's identity and entitlement to the grant.

For security reasons we will not be able to give this information out over the phone, but can issue a duplicate bill to your registered business address if required.

  • The £10k and £25k grant schemes are separate to the business rates relief schemes also announced by government.

These business rates reliefs apply to eligible retail, leisure and hospitality businesses (including those that closed temporarily due to the Government advice on Coronavirus) and 100 per cent rate relief is available for a period of 12 months.

We will apply this relief automatically to business rates bills for 2020/21 and businesses do not need to apply for this. New bills with applied relief have been issued.