Glasgow City Council today (28 January) approved the allocation of £4.467million to businesses in the city affected by restrictions put in place to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, with this funding to be allocated by a newly-developed discretionary Business Hardship Fund to help businesses ineligible for any of the existing government business support schemes.
The £4.467million funding comes from a £30million Scottish Government fund established to help mitigate short-term financial challenges being experienced by businesses which have been adversely impacted by restrictions and regulations introduced since October to control the spread of the virus.
Glasgow City Council received a grant of £4.467million from this fund in December, and while welcome, the scale of the impact seen by the pandemic means that this is considerably less than what Glasgow is paying to businesses under the Strategic Framework Business Fund every four weeks.
The council today approved a proposed COVID Business Hardship Fund to support businesses who have fallen through the cracks of previous or existing government grant schemes - for example, given the strict criteria of the Strategic Business Framework Fund, officers have had to reject over 2,800 applications from businesses experiencing financial hardship. This grant will aim to provide financial hardship payments to any business who has not received government support since the Brake Restrictions programme in October 2020.
The Business Hardship Fund will go live on 5 February, and will be in operation until 19 February. The fund will offer three levels of payment based on company size: £9,000 for businesses employing between 25 and 50 staff; £6,000 for businesses employing between 10 and 24 staff; and £3,000 for businesses employing 9 staff or less.
Eligibility for the grant will be based on hardship, and covers: businesses in premises and on the NDR (non-domestic rates) list as the eligible ratepayer (not landlords); tenants and occupiers of premises operating a business who can provide a valid lease; and self-employed and sole traders who do not qualify for any of the other schemes and who can demonstrate -through audited accounts - financial detriment in the last 12 months.
Those sectors currently excluded from the Strategic Framework Business Fund will also be considered, such as supply chain manufacturing, elements of the service industry affected by footfall or loss of income through cancellations, for example laundry services, and sections of retail where legislation allows premises to remain open, but business is affected by footfall or reduced orders. In addition, applications from third sector organisations and social enterprises who employ staff will be considered.
Businesses who have already received support through other schemes are not eligible for assistance from the Business Hardship Fund, including events and tour guides and those businesses eligible for other funds either recently launched or due to be launched by government: Taxi and Private Hire Driver Support Fund; Mobile Close Contact Fund; Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund; and Bed and Breakfast / Self-Catering Support Fund. Guidance on ineligible sectors will be contained in the online application form, and will be published on the Glasgow City Council website.
The fund is unable to support businesses with multiple premises and therefore only one grant per business will be accepted, and the application process will be in line with previous funds, where applicants will be encouraged to complete an online application and upload required evidence.
Since April, Glasgow City Council has allocated almost £171million - through 16,000 approved applications - through eight business grant schemes to businesses affected by the pandemic. These eight schemes are as follows:
· Brake Restrictions;
· Contingency Fund;
· Furlough Top-Up;
· Multiple Properties;
· Newly Self-Employed Hardship and Bed & Breakfast Support;
· Small Business Support and Retail Hospitality & Leisure;
· Strategic Framework Business Fund; and
· Tenants & Occupiers.
Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "The Business Hardship Fund will protect businesses and jobs in Glasgow, targeting support where it is most needed. We have already allocated more than £170,000million to businesses in Glasgow affected by the pandemic, and this discretionary funding will now allow us to provide financial support to businesses who have previously not been eligible for such assistance."