Merton businesses can now apply to our discretionary grant programme

We have launched a new discretionary grants programme in which local small businesses can apply for a one-off payment to help them through the coronavirus crisis.

The funding for the programme comes from the Government’s Local Authority Grant Fund, something which we, together with other London councils, have campaigned hard for. Our share of this fund is estimated to be around £1.3 million.

This will not be enough money to support every small business in the borough so, to manage demand, we’re splitting the scheme into two phases. The first phase is now live and all applications must be received by 24 June. In this phase, the following types of business will be eligible:

  • Charities with properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief, which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief
  • Small businesses and nurseries in shared premises or other flexible workspaces
  • Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment
  • Bed and breakfasts which pay council tax instead of business rates.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive but is intended to guide local authorities as to the types of business that the government considers should be a priority for the scheme. We will determine whether particular situations not listed are broadly similar in nature to those above and, if so, whether they should be eligible for grants from this discretionary fund.

If there are funds left after phase one, we will move onto a second phase in which we will use our discretion to direct funds where we believe it is needed the most. During this phase the following types of business will be eligible:

  • Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis
  • Other small businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs.
  • Businesses that occupy a property with a rateable value below £51,000
  • Priority will be given to businesses and organisations that demonstrate they support closing the equality gap between the east and west of the borough

Eligible local businesses can apply for sums of £25,000, £10,000, or any amount less than £10,000 depending on their fixed costs and the loss of earnings incurred by the lockdown. Therefore, as part of the application process, businesses will need to provide one or more of the following items:

  • Proof of property costs
  • evidence to demonstrate a substantial loss in income as a result of the current situation
  • bank statements
  • profit and loss accounts
  • audited accounts

To apply, or to read more about the details of the fund and the criteria we’ll be using for each phase, visit our Discretionary Grant Fund webpage.