MORE than £6m of extra funding has been made available to small New Forest and Christchurch firms badly hit by the coronavirus crisis.
The government has handed New Forest District Council £2m and BCP £4.3m to distribute in order to stop small firms “falling through the cracks”.
Under the national government guidance for the Local Authority Discretionary Fund, small and micro companies can each apply for up to £10,000.
It is specifically meant for businesses that have not yet got help, have fixed property related costs and which can demonstrate significant financial losses – such as a drastic drop in income – as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions.
Four key business types will be prioritised for help; bed and breakfasts which pay council tax, small businesses in shared or flexible workspaces, market traders with fixed building costs – such as rent and rates – and charities not helped so far financially.
Subject to availability further priority will be given to businesses in the retail and hospitality sector, those impacted by the cancellation of events and others who have been unable to trade without an online presence.
Cllr Michael Harris, NFDC cabinet member for economic development said “Despite unprecedented government funding for UK businesses during this pandemic it is not without limitations.
“This new Discretionary Grants Fund is aimed at helping those New Forest businesses that might have fallen through the gaps. I am grateful therefore to officers for arranging this scheme so quickly. As the funds are limited, I urge businesses that qualify to apply as quickly as possible.”
BCP said it would be using its discretion to consider some awards of £25,000.
Leader, Cllr Vikki Slade, said: “We would encourage small businesses who think they are eligible to apply for the new scheme as soon as possible using the online application process.”
NFDC has set the deadline for applications to it for 5pm on 12th June while firms have until 9am on 15th June in the BCP area. Further information is available at the NFDC and BCP websites.