Decision Maker: Director of Finance & Economy
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
In response to the Coronavirus Pandemic and
following the launch of the Small Business Grants and Retail,
Leisure and Hospitality grants schemes, central government
announced the Discretionary Grants schemes to be administered by
lower tier Local Authorities. Ashford Borough Council has been
awarded £1.4 million to support small businesses within the
borough that are being impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The government awarded Council’s a 5% top up to the original Small Business, and Retail and Hospitality Grants schemes, and provided guidance recommending some priorities to support small businesses not able to access funding through the original schemes, but also allowing Council’s to provide their own discretion in agreeing local policies.
Government have asked councils to administer the grants following the Government guidance, and have asked councils to award grants quickly to support businesses during these unprecedented times.
The Director for Finance and Economy agreed
the Ashford Discretionary Grants policy on the 21st May 2020,
following consultation with officers, the Leader and Portfolio
Holder for Finance and IT, with the grants scheme going live for
applications from the 28th May 2020. This decision was made using
the delegated authority agreed by Cabinet to administer government
grants schemes in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The Director for Finance and Economy subsequently agreed an amendment to the policy on the 4th June 2020, removing the Kent Community Foundation Emergency Coronavirus Grant scheme from the list that if received would exclude applicants from applying to the Discretionary Grants Scheme. This change was agreed for the following reasons:
•This brings Ashford Borough Council into alignment with the majority of Kent Councils schemes, providing equal opportunity to charities across the county.
•The Kent Community Foundation funding has been targeted at additional project responses in relation to CV-19 supporting the vulnerable community and not the maintenance of day to day activity of charities. This Discretionary Grants fund is to resolve the inequalities of the government small business grants scheme which was to support day to day operations.
In considering the options for Ashford
Discretionary Grants Policy, the Borough Council undertook research
into the businesses most affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic, and
consulted with local business stakeholders and other Local
Authorities in Kent. The policy follows the government’s
guidance, recognising the 4 priority company sectors that
government recognised as small businesses most affected, who
didn’t benefit from the Small Business Grants and Retail and
Hospitality Grants schemes previously.
Reason Key: Expenditure > £500,000;
Publication date: 23/06/2020
Date of decision: 21/05/2020