Business Support - National and Local Restrictions
Following the Government announcement that Sunderland will be placed under Tier 3 Restrictions from 2 December, details on the next phase of support will be launched soon. Please check this webpage regularly for updates.
Work is ongoing to assess and pay all eligible applications under the current Local Restriction Support Grants, launched on Monday 16 November, covering the period up to 1 December. Almost 1000 payments - around £1.6 million - have now been made to Sunderland businesses. Businesses that meet the eligibility criteria, and who have not yet applied, are encouraged to apply to the scheme urgently. The link to the application form and full guidance is below.
Applications for the Local Restrictions Support Grant schemes covering the period up to 1 December are currently open.
Please see below some background information followed by full details of each scheme and eligibility criteria, which we are asking all businesses to read before completing the online application form.
All schemes can be applied for using the Local restrictions business grants application form.
The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published initial guidance for local authorities on 3 November for a number of support schemes for businesses. This includes some support for businesses affected by the Local Restrictions which came into effect in the North East on 18 September, and some support focussed on businesses affected by the national lockdown measures which started on 5 November 2020.
Government guidance on businesses which are permitted to remain open and businesses which are subject to restrictions is set out at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/closing-certain-businesses-and-venues-in-england#businesses-permitted-to-remain-open
The business support schemes are as follows:
Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) - covering the period from18 September to 4 November 2020
Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) - covering the period from 5 November 2020 (currently to 2 December 2020)
Local Restrictions Support Grant (Sector) - covering the period from 1-4 November 2020
(NB from 5 November, businesses covered by this scheme will be supported through the Closed scheme above)
In addition, all local authorities have been allocated resources under a one-off Additional Restrictions Grant.
BEIS has given local authorities discretion in some of the business support schemes above, although these are underpinned by a set of criteria that determine the amount of funding provided to Sunderland City Council for it to administer. This means that, although in some of the schemes the Council has some discretion, the schemes with the discretionary element are cash limited and therefore must be delivered within the finite available financial resources provided to the Council by Government.
All local authorities are required to publish details of how the schemes will operate in their local area. This document sets out in detail how the schemes will operate in Sunderland and will be published on the Council's dedicated web pages for businesses and employers - https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/covid-19business.
The Council has taken the decision to use part of the funding received from Government through the Additional Restrictions Grant immediately to enable a larger number of businesses to benefit both from the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) and the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed). This recognises the immediate level of need within the business community in these sectors. This decision covers the period to 2 December 2020. Full details are set out below. This approach will then be reviewed and further guidance will be published for how each of the schemes will operate in Sunderland from 3 December 2020.
The Council will aim to pay the grants to our eligible businesses as quickly as possible. Online application forms will need to be completed and these will guide eligible organisations through the information required for each of the schemes. This process will ensure the necessary appropriate checks and balances are in place to ensure that the grants go to the appropriate organisations.
For all schemes, businesses must not be in administration, insolvent or have a striking-off notice. In addition, state aid limits will apply - further information is included within the guidance issued by Government. Please note, the grant income must also be included as income in the tax return of individual businesses.
The Guidance for Local Authorities from Government on each of the schemes was updated on 10 November and is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-restrictions-support-grants-lrsg-and-additional-restrictions-grant-arg-guidance-for-local-authorities
Guidance for businesses on the schemes from the Government is at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19.
Unfortunately, the Council will not be able to support all businesses in the city given the financial constraints, but we are aiming to deliver these schemes as quickly as possible to those organisations within the criteria set out below.
The Council reserves the right to vary the terms of the schemes which include a discretionary element at any time, and without notice, should it be necessary to do so.
Please note there is no appeal process.
Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG)
This is a one-off cash-limited fund provided to the local authority for business support, reflecting the wider economic impact of Covid. It is expected by Government to cover a period up to 31 March 2022.
Government has given local authorities discretion for how to allocate this resource and it is therefore a discretionary scheme.
The Council has taken the decision to initially use Additional Restrictions Grant resources to enable more businesses to access the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) and Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) schemes as detailed in the information regarding each of the two schemes. This recognises the immediate level of need within the business community in these sectors and will enable two additional categories of businesses to be supported at this critical time.
Please note this approach has been agreed for the period up to 2 December 2020.
Once Government has confirmed the arrangements for the end of national lockdown we will review the business support schemes which continue to apply and how they will be implemented in Sunderland. We will provide updates on the dedicated Covid-19 web pages for businesses and employers at https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/covid-19business.