Decision details

Business Discretionary Grants Scheme

Decision Maker: Director of Finance & Economy

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: No

Purpose:

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.

Decision:

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.

Alternative options considered:

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;

Contact: Ben Lockwood, Director of Finance and Economy Email: ben.lockwood@ashford.gov.uk Email: ben.lockwood@ashford.gov.uk Tel: 01233 330540.

Publication date: 23/06/2020

Date of decision: 21/05/2020