Health and wellbeing Coronavirus - Businesses and employers

Discretionary grants for small businesses

Applications now closed

Applications for the discretionary grants for small businesses have now closed.

The online form was live for two weeks; from Wednesday 27 May until 10pm on Wednesday 10 June 2020. We have carefully assessed each application against the criteria and undertaken a series of verification checks.

On Friday 26 June we began the process of contacting businesses to let them know the outcome of their application and making payments to successful applicants.

We aim to have paid out the majority of Grants by 8 July. Please bear with us, If you have not heard from us we will be in touch soon on the outcome of your application.

Discretionary grants for small businesses

The Government introduced additional grant funding aimed at small businesses with ongoing, fixed property-related costs who didn’t qualify for the Small Business Grant or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant due to either not having a rates liability or not meeting the Government-set criteria.

The Government guidance of 13 May 2020 gives the Council some discretion over allocating grants so that we can issue them based on local insight and economic need.

However, there is limited, fixed funding of just £5.4million available to the Council from the Government for this scheme, which means that — as much as we want to — we cannot provide a grant to every business and charity that applies. 

There are tens of thousands of small businesses in Manchester, but we only currently have funding for, at most, about one-in-thirty of the small businesses or charities who could qualify. Based on the funding pot of £5.4m, if we issued grants of £10k, we could only support 540 businesses. If we issued grants of £5k, we could support 1,080 businesses. 

Manchester City Council’s approach to allocation of the discretionary grants

The Council recognises that Manchester is home to a large number of independent, start-up and micro businesses that occupy rented business accommodation where rates are inclusive. 

These businesses are vital to the economic growth and development of our city and to ensure that we can support as many businesses as possible, grant payments will normally be limited to a maximum of £5,000 per applicant.

To prioritise grant awards, we have grouped businesses based on their impact on the local economy:

Start-up and micro businesses 

This type of business has the least financial resilience and is more adversely affected by cash-flow issues than larger and more established businesses. 
Small business in the digital, life sciences and creative sector are key growth sectors in the City and will play a key part in the city’s recovery. 

Businesses within Enterprise Zones

There are two Enterprise Zones (EZ) in Manchester, located in the city's growth areas — Manchester Oxford Road Corridor EZ and Manchester Airport City Extension EZ. The Oxford Rd Corridor EZ has a concentration of health and bio-science businesses with a high degree of innovation. The Airport EZ is another key growth location and has been significantly affected by the COVID-19. 

Charities and Co-operatives

Charities and co-operatives will be needed to provide services to the most vulnerable residents in the city post-crisis.

Independent permanent food halls and market halls

Businesses in independent permanent food halls and market halls are likely to be small or micro, and not have the reserves needed to support them through this crisis. 

Independent retail businesses

Independent retailers are likely to be small or micro, and not have the reserves needed to support them through this crisis. 

Other businesses with fixed, property-related costs of more than £1,500

In line with the Government-set threshold, businesses must have relatively high fixed-property costs of more than £1,500 a year to qualify for the scheme.

As there is limited Government funding for this scheme, we will consider applications from eligible businesses in a phased way, starting with start-up and micro businesses, and then moving to the remaining businesses in the order listed below:

  1. Start-up and micro businesses with fixed property-related costs of more than £1,500 a year.
  2. Digital, life sciences and creative sectors with fixed property-related costs of more than £1,500 a year.
  3. Business within the Enterprise Zones* with fixed property-related costs of more than £1,500 a year. 
  4. Manchester-based charities and co-operatives with fixed property-related costs of more than £1,500 a year.

*By Enterprise Zone we mean businesses in the Manchester Oxford Road Corridor Enterprise Zone and the Manchester Airport City Extension Enterprise Zone.

We will then consider the remainder of the applications from eligible businesses in this order:

  1. Independent permanent food and market halls that are known to make a positive contribution to employment and the economy of the city with fixed property-related costs of more than £1,500 a year.
  2. Independent retailers.
  3. Other businesses 

Online applications were open for two weeks from Wednesday 27 May until 10 pm 10 June 2020. Applications are now closed.

We're now assessing each application. We aim to pay grants as quickly as possible.

Essential Qualifying Evidence

As part of your application, you need to provide evidence to demonstrate that you meet the essential criteria to qualify for a discretionary grant:

  1. Ongoing fixed building-related costs of more than £1,500 per year that were in place at 11th March 2020
  2. Trading at the start of the pandemic on 11 March
  3. Eligible types of business
  4. Suffered a significant fall in income as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak

Small businesses must meet two of more the following requirements in a year:

  • Turnover below £10.2m
  • Balance sheet total below £5.1m
  • Less than 50 staff

A micro business must meet two or more of  the following requirements:

  • Turnover below £632,000
  • Balance sheet total below £316,000
  • Up to 10 staff 

Businesses who have applied for, or received the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or the Self Employment Income Support Scheme are eligible to apply for this scheme.

Restrictions and out of scope businesses

Businesses that are out of scope for support include:

  • Businesses operating from domestic settings 
  • Businesses that do not have fixed, property related costs.
  • The scheme would not normally support businesses that are part of a national chain or franchise
  • Businesses that have already received COVID-19 related grant funding or support 
  • Bed and breakfast businesses in the city that have been paid to accommodate vulnerable groups or homeless people during this period, on the basis that they will not have seen a significant reduction in income
  • Organisations whose ongoing, fixed property related costs are low, e.g. those renting a room or work space for a few hours per week, or an Airbnb that are only paying Council Tax, would not normally be entitled to support

Self-employed businesses that do not have committed, fixed, ongoing, property related costs should see if they are eligible for support from the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support.

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