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Council to start processing additional coronavirus grants

12 May 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates

Given the pace of change of information, please access the latest information on our Coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

The council is now accepting applications for the government's additional coronavirus small business grants, after lobbying for extra cash to help businesses which were not covered by existing schemes.

The government announced last week that additional money would be made available help small businesses, with high fixed property-related costs which could demonstrate a substantial drop in income as a result of coronavirus, but which could not access existing grant schemes.

Businesses in multi tenanted units can now apply for the grant

Although local authorities haven't yet received detailed eligibility criteria for the grant, initial guidance from government has asked councils to focus on businesses in multi-tenanted units, such as those working in units within shared offices or managed workspaces. The council estimates that around 150 businesses in the borough fall into this category.

The council has already paid out around £38 million of government coronavirus grants, with about 83% of our initial allocation from government now distributed.

But businesses which pay their rent and rates as one payment to a landlord were not eligible to claim any of this initial grant money. This prompted Rochdale and other Greater Manchester authorities to lobby government, and some additional funding will now be made available.

'It didn't seem fair that some businesses were falling through the cracks'

Council leader and cabinet member for finance, Allen Brett, said: "We fought hard for this extra cash, as it didn't seem fair that certain businesses which really needed help were falling through the cracks.

It's important that we support as many livelihoods and jobs as possible, particularly those connected to small independent businesses which don't have a large financial support network. Although we're still awaiting detailed guidance, we want to press on quickly because we know that businesses need help now. The government guidelines have specified that businesses in multi-tenanted units should be supported and we know that there are many in our borough, so we will invite them to apply first."

Businesses can't apply if they have already received a coronavirus grant

Businesses can't apply for the grant if they have already benefitted from the existing coronavirus grants or the business rates holiday, or are receiving help through the Self Employment Income Support Scheme. They can apply if they have used the furlough scheme or received a coronavirus loan. Businesses will need to demonstrate significant financial impact as a result of coronavirus and evidence of property costs.