In collaboration between four local councils – with support and advice from local BIDS and GFirstLep – the county will soon see the launch of a new business support grant funding scheme. The grants are designed to offer support to some local businesses which were not eligible for previous funds.
Cheltenham, Gloucester, Tewkesbury and Stroud councils are working together to create a scheme to ensure effective and fair distribution of discretionary grant funding and are looking to launch the scheme in 3 weeks. A detailed scheme of this scale would usually take up to 6 months to implement. The partnership is drawing upon advice from the local BIDs (business improvement districts) and LEP (local enterprise partnerships), an approach recommended by BEIS (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy).
The partnership is in direct response to the recent government announcement that, due to COVID-19, there would be an additional discretionary fund aimed at small businesses who were not eligible for the Small Business grant fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality grant fund. The councils will be applying the criteria for eligibility as laid down by the government but will also, where government funding allows, look to support some additional businesses within the discretional element.
The announcement of the partnership builds on the support given to local businesses over the past few weeks, with the four councils collectively paying out £79.5 million in grants to 6,722 businesses.
The authorities’ chief finance officers agreed: “We want to ensure a consistent approach for businesses across our region so that they have clarity and certainty that this money will go to where it is needed most, in line with the guidance provided to us. We are united in our view that businesses deserve a scheme that is straightforward, transparent and supports the economy across our districts.’’
David Owen, chief executive at GFirst LEP, said: “The discretionary fund from central government is to be welcomed, it will certainly help a number of businesses who we know were ineligible for various grant schemes previously announced. We are fully supportive of a joined up, countywide approach to this fund, thereby ensuring businesses across the county are treated equally.’’
The BEIS government guidance states: ‘’Local authorities may wish to consider collaborating as they design their discretionary schemes to ensure there is consistency where they are working across a functional economic area and may want to engage with MCAs and LEPs to ensure alignment and reduce duplication with other local discretionary business grants that may have been established.’’
Further details of the scheme – including a go live date – will be published soon.