More Support Available for Local Businesses in Reading

  • Businesses not qualifying for previous financial support can now apply for help under the Council’s new Additional Restrictions Grant
  • Self-employed, local businesses who operate in a shared workspace, regular market traders, bed and breakfast owners or businesses who rely on retail, hospitality and leisure industries, urged to apply by December 13th

READING businesses which have not qualified for previous financial support packages, but have nevertheless been impacted by national Covid 19 lockdowns, could qualify for grant sums from the Council.

The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) Fund is designed for firms which fall outside the Local Restrictions Support Grant Fund because either they do not directly pay business rates, or whilst not having been forced to shut during national Government lockdowns, have been badly affected as a result of supplying a sector that has.

Reading Borough Council has been awarded a total of £3.3 million by Government to support those businesses over the next 16 months, up to March 2022.

A two week window for applications opened yesterday (November 30) and runs until December 13th inclusive.

Under the Council’s discretionary scheme, five types of business may be eligible for a range of grant sums. These will vary according to their rateable value, equivalent annual rent or mortgage payment. They are:

  • Businesses mandated to close in shared work spaces which do not have their own business rates assessment and can demonstrate fixed building-related costs outside of their residential property costs. The assumed RV will be based on annual rent or mortgage payment due in the financial year.
  • Bed & Breakfasts mandated to close which pay Council Tax instead of business rates. The assumed RV will be based on annual rental or mortgage payments due in the financial year.
  • Regular market traders mandated to close who do not have their own business rates assessment, but with fixed locations in the borough. The assumed RV will be based on an annual rent/licence payment due in the financial year.
  • Support for businesses which are ancillary to the hospitality, retail and leisure industries and who have not received any business grants administered by the Council to date. This focuses upon businesses which have not specifically been required to close but have lost their main source of revenue as a result of national restrictions upon the industries to which they provide goods or services. Businesses may be local ratepayers or be able to demonstrate fixed building-related costs outside of their residential property costs. The rateable value will be that defined in the rating list, or an assumed RV based on an annual rent or mortgage payment due in the financial year.
  • A hardship fund for rate-paying and non rate-paying businesses including self-employed individuals who have not received support under the previous grant schemes administered by the Council, the schemes outlined above or, in relation to self-employed individuals, central government grant schemes including the self-employed income support scheme, and require further support due to demonstrable financial vulnerability. Businesses will where appropriate need to demonstrate fixed building related costs outside of their residential property costs and provide significant evidence of financial vulnerability. In determining these applications, the Council will consider the impact that the failure of these businesses would have on the economic development of the borough and on the business rates revenue of the Council.

Full details of the discretionary grant policy can be found at https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/documents/s15162/Additional%20Restrictions%20Grant%20Fund.pdf

Eligible businesses can download the application form at https://www.reading.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-business-information/covid-19-support-for-business/financial-support-for-businesses-and-charities/additional-restrictions-grant/

Reading Borough Council Leader, Councillor Jason Brock, said:

“Just because a businesses has not had to shut its doors during a national lockdown does not mean they have not been badly hit by the pandemic.

“Whether you are self-employed, a local businesses who operates in a shared workspace, a regular market trader, a bed and breakfast owner, or a business who relies on the retail, hospitality and leisure industries, we know there are many hundreds of local firms out there who are struggling and have not been eligible for money through previous financial support schemes.

“I would urge businesses in Reading who fall into those categories to apply for a grant sum within the two week window, which is open now and closes on December 13th. The money available could provide a lifeline for many businesses who are, by their very nature, not as resilient to financial hardship as some of the larger enterprises.”

Due to the limited funds available and the anticipated level of demand for the scheme, applications will be considered in a round and at the end of the application deadline. Payments for eligible businesses are expected to begin week commencing 14th December, after the necessary checks have taken place. Because the Government funding total spans two years, the Council has ringfenced 50% of the total for this financial year, and 50% for 2021/22.

Oscar Mortali

For media enquiries about this release email oscar.mortali@reading.gov.uk or call 0118 937 2301