To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will use returned Discretionary Grant Funds unspent by local authorities to provide financial assistance to close companies directors who operate businesses from their homes, have had no access to business grants or local authority discretionary funds and have been unable to trade throughout the covid-19 outbreak.
Local Authorities had significant discretion when it came to setting the eligibility criteria for their discretionary grant schemes. Although the Government encouraged Local Authorities to focus on small businesses which faced high fixed property-related costs and which had missed out on the main business grant schemes due to the way they interacted with the business rates system, Local Authorities were able to pay grants to other kinds of businesses, according to their assessment of local economic need.The business grant funds, including the Discretionary Grant Fund, were primarily intended to support small businesses which faced high fixed property-related costs during the strict ‘lockdown’ period, when consumer footfall was dramatically reduced. As most businesses are now able to reopen, it is right that we wind up the grant schemes, all of which closed to new applicants on 28 August. The Government continues to review the economic situation and consider what support businesses need. However, there are currently no plans to re-open the business grants to new applications.
We expect that Local Authorities will spend the vast majority of the funding which they were allocated for the Discretionary Grant Fund. We do expect there to be some underspends from the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund. We have asked Local Authorities to return any underspends to the Exchequer.