Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak

Retailers have been advised on how to secure a new wave of Covid-19 discretionary funding, after shop owners claimed they were denied without reason.

On 5 January, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a set of one-off top-up grants that would be available for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

As a result, independent retailers can apply for a Local Restrictions Support Grant, which supports businesses that have been severely impacted due to temporary local restrictions.

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Businesses are not eligible if:

  • they do not have a business rates account
  • were required to close by law during national lockdown periods
  • provided takeaway or click & collect services before government restrictions came in
  • or have already received grant payments that total the maximum levels of state aid permitted (€800,000)

Eligible businesses may be entitled to a cash grant of between £467 to £1,050, for each 14-day period under restrictions, dependent on their rateable value.

Local councils have discretion in identifying the right businesses to receive the funding, based on their application process. However, retailers claim they are being denied funding with no explanation, and no chance to appeal the decision. Halima Samli, owner of Topping St News in Blackpool, told betterRetailing she was refused funding, despite providing the evidence required of her.

“We are located in the town centre, and with no tourism on top of the pandemic, our trade has dropped by 60%,” she said.

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“Blackpool Council told us that we needed to show our loss of trade to qualify for funding, but despite doing this they just keep telling us we have failed the process, and aren’t giving us any reasons as to why.”

Ian B Sloan, of chartered surveyors Bankier Sloan, reinforced the importance of retailers providing all the necessary evidence they can showing financial loss.

He told betterRetailing: “The vital requirement if retailers have been deemed ‘essential’ and not been forced to close is to provide evidence there has been a loss of income, and check their council’s website to find a grant that is available to them.

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“Central government want to help support all businesses, but those that are getting it are nonessential retailers.

“There are a number of stores working hard to keep their communities going who won’t be getting what they deserve.”

He added: “Retailers should try to register with their councils as soon as possible.”

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