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Debenhams – one of many town centre shops closed by the lockdown.

Funding available for closed businesses through HBC

Financial support for local businesses obliged to close during the current national lockdown is available through Hastings Borough Council, which has also received funding enabling it to deploy dedicated staff to advise businesses on compliance with Covid-19 provisions. Nick Terdre reports, photos by Russell Jacobs.

Hastings Borough Council has received just over £2 million from the government to be distributed as local restriction support grants to businesses obliged to close down under the terms of the national lockdown which came into effect on 5 November.

“We expect there to be a similar number of businesses that will be eligible for this funding as the small business grants and the retail, leisure and hospitality grant funding which we distributed earlier this year,” said Cllr Peter Chowney, the lead councillor for Financial Management and Estates.

In the original lockdown HBC distributed discretionary grants worth a total of £1.15m to 114 businesses in these sectors, according to government figures.

Eligibility is based on rateable value: properties with a rateable value of £15,000 or less will receive £1,334 for the four weeks of the lockdown, those with a rateable value of more than £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive £2,000 and those with a rateable value of £51,000 or more £3,000.

Shutters down at Primark.

“We have worked incredibly hard to get this grant scheme up and running as soon as possible, to provide grants to the businesses who need them during this difficult time,” Cllr Chowney said.

“All you have to do is fill out a simple application form, and we should have the funding with you in no time.”

Full details of the scheme and how to apply are available on the HBC website.

Additional grants

One-off funding has also been provided for an ‘additional restrictions grant’ aimed at businesses such as those in shared accommodation with no separate rateable value which are not eligible for the local restriction support grants, he said.

“This discretionary grant fund will be in place not just for the current lockdown but for the period until 31 March 2022. The council is working on a scheme and once approved, we will update our website and social media channels with advice on how to apply.”

HBC has also received £62,000 from the government to help with local Covid-19 compliance and enforcement activities. This will enable it to employ additional staff whose role will be solely to help local businesses ensure they are compliant with measures and guidelines set out by the government for safe functioning during the pandemic.

“Our Environmental Health team have been assisting businesses with the guidance throughout this pandemic and this government grant comes as a welcome boost meaning we can increase the number of officers with dedicated Covid-19 roles,” said council leader Kim Forward.

“This funding will also enable us to have the resources available to support more businesses during the next stages of this pandemic, helping us to continue to work together as a town to keep our infection rate low.”

Help for self-employed

The government is also making financial help for the self-employed available. However, as this is essentially an extension of the support previously provided, it contains the same inadequacies as the original scheme, which was widely criticised for leaving large numbers of self-employed ineligible.

Eligibility is limited to those who qualified for the first and second grants available under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, whether or not they actually applied.

The new grants cover the periods November 2020-January 2021, and February-April 2021. The November-January grant will be calculated at 80% of three months’ average monthly trading profits, paid in a single instalment and capped at £7,500 in total. It is taxable and subject to national insurance contributions.

An online application service is due to go live on 30 November. Details of how the February-April grant will be calculated are not yet available.

A large number of people – nearly 3m according to some reports – are, however, ineligible for the scheme, including those earning more than £50,000 a year, those who have set themselves up as limited companies and those who have only recently become self-employed and have no record of trading profits.

Pubs are among the businesses unable to operate.


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Posted 17:59 Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 In: Covid-19

Also in: Covid-19

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