North Hertfordshire’s struggling businesses boosted by latest grant scheme

A deserted Hitchin during lockdown. Picture: Allan J Millard

A deserted Hitchin during lockdown. Picture: Allan J Millard - Credit: Archant

Small businesses in North Hertfordshire have been given a much-needed boost after the launch of a new grant scheme.

North Herts District Council has launched its own grant scheme after being given the go ahead to use £1.4 million of central government funding to support local businesses.

This discretionary scheme is aimed at supporting small businesses that did not qualify under any of the national schemes.

Businesses may be eligible if they can demonstrate they have:

• Suffered a significant fall in income because of the COVID-19 crisis.

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• Relatively high property related costs.

• Occupy property – or part of a property – with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000.

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• Been trading on/before March 11 2020.

The application window is open until Friday June 19, and the council will then assess the number of eligible applications and distribute funding accordingly.

Councillor Ian Albert, NHDC’s executive member for finance and IT, said the scheme allows for “three possible tiers of grant payment – any amount under £10,000, a £10,000 grant or even a £25,000 grant in a few cases.”

Cllr Albert said: “We expect the vast majority of grants to be £10,000 or less. By giving a three week window for applications, we’re ensuring that help can be made available to the maximum number of small local businesses affected by COVID-19. We certainly encourage any small businesses who think they might be eligible to apply.”

Cllr Keith Hoskins, NHDC’s executive member for enterprise and cooperative development, specified the kinds of ‘left behind’ businesses this new grant scheme is designed for.

“This fund might look to help those in shared offices or flexible workspaces, or regular market traders with fixed building costs but who probably don’t have their own business rates assessment.

“In addition, bed and breakfasts which pay council tax instead of business rates, and charity properties in receipt of business rates relief may also be eligible.

“Our fund will potentially enable these kinds of local businesses and others to claim support during this incredibly tough period.”

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