Wyre Forest District Council is revising its eligibility criteria for the Government-funded Discretionary Grant Scheme, to ensure higher take up of the funding.

Since it was launched on 27 May 2020, Wyre Forest District Council has paid out about £100k in grants for this scheme, which helps businesses whose income has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but which have not received funding from certain other Government support schemes. The deadline for applications is 30 June.

Qualifying businesses may include small businesses that have fixed property costs in shared offices or other flexible workspaces (which do not have their own business rates assessment), regular market traders that have building costs such as rent, and Bed & Breakfasts which pay council tax instead of business rates. The grant scheme also includes charity properties that receive charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.

The revised eligibility criteria cover two areas. The first is that the rateable value limit for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector is lifted from £75k to £85k. The second is that the ability to top up grants, which already featured in the scheme for the larger retail, hospitality and leisure sector businesses, should be extended to all eligible businesses.

Councillor Graham Ballinger, Leader of Wyre Forest District Council said: “We are pleased to be able to widen the criteria for eligibility for the Discretionary Grant Scheme which means it will benefit some more local businesses. This will continue to be subject to available resources, in particular that the top up grants would have to be affordable within our grant allocation.

“We are inviting applications from small and medium businesses based in the Wyre Forest district. Under this scheme, we are anticipating giving out grants of varying amounts – most will be for £5,000 which could become £10,000 with the top up under the revised scheme, and the larger retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will receive grants of £10,000 which might be topped up to £25,000.”

The eligibility criteria are clearly set out on the council’s website and in the online application form, which applicants are asked to read carefully. 

Businesses who have applied for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme are eligible to apply so long as they meet the criteria for the council’s scheme.  Only businesses which were trading on 11 March 2020 are eligible for this scheme.”

Application is via the council’s website using an online form. The deadline for businesses to apply is Tuesday 30 June.  The link is www.wyreforestdc.gov.uk/dbrgs

The council is using funds provided by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in order to pay the grants and has been allocated £1.153m. It is for each council to devise its own scheme taking account of the guidance that has been issued.