The Government has provided 100% business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, extensions to the furlough scheme and Self-Employment Income Support Schemes, as well as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan and Bounce Back Loan Schemes.
The Chancellor has also announced further support for businesses with one-off top-up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property, plus a further £594 million discretionary fund to support other impacted businesses. That builds on the £1.1 billion discretionary fund that local authorities in England have already received to help impacted businesses.
The guidance for these additional restrictions grants encourages local authorities to develop discretionary schemes to help those businesses that are perhaps not legally forced to close but are nonetheless severely impacted by the restrictions put in place to control the spread of covid.
On this point, I have received reports that some businesses such as recording and rehearsal studios, which might not be ratepayers and which are not explicitly mentioned in the guidance on these grant schemes, are being deemed ineligible by some local authorities.
To be clear to local authorities and businesses, although the ultimate decision is at the local authority’s discretion, the fund can, and in my opinion should, be used to provide grants to businesses like recording and rehearsal studios. Supporting these businesses is vital to preserve the UK’s talent pipeline, even if they do not sell to consumers directly on a specific premise.
I therefore encourage and expect local authorities to be sympathetic to applications from these types of businesses that have been impacted by covid-19 restrictions but are ineligible for other grant schemes.