Additional Restrictions Grants (ARG) Scheme - Second Round Policy

Definitions

The following definitions are used within this page:

‘Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG)’ means the additional funding provided by Government. Funding will be made available to eligible Local Authorities at the point that national restrictions are imposed or at the point the Local Authority first entered LCAL 3 local restrictions;

‘COVID-19’ (coronavirus); means the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus;

‘Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)’; means the Government department responsible for the scheme and guidance;

‘Effective date’; means, for eligibility of the grant, the date of the local restrictions or the date of widespread national restrictions. For the purpose of this scheme the date cannot be before 14th October 2020;

‘Hereditament(s); means the assessment defined within Section 64 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988;

‘Local lockdown’; means the same as ‘Local restrictions’;

‘Local rating list’; means the list as defined by Section 41 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988

‘Local restrictions’; and ‘Localised restrictions’ means legally binding restrictions imposed on specific Local Authority areas or multiple Local Authority areas, where the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care requires the closure of businesses in a local area under regulations made using powers in Part 2A of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 in response to the threat posed by coronavirus and commonly as part of a wider set of measures;

‘Local Restrictions Support Grant Scheme (Closed); means the grant scheme developed by the Council in response to an announcement made by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy made on 9th September 2020 and amended on 9th October 2020 and which is applicable to businesses forced to close under either LCAL3 or where national restrictions are in place;

‘Local Restrictions Support Grant Scheme (Closed) Addendum; means the changes made to the Local Restrictions Support Grant Scheme (Closed) due to widespread nationwide restrictions;
‘Ratepayer’; means the person who, according to the Council’s records, was the ratepayer liable for occupied rates in respect of the hereditament at the date of the local restrictions or widespread national restrictions;

‘State Aid Framework’; means the Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak published on 19 March 2020; and
‘Temporary Framework for State aid’; means the same as the ‘State Aid Framework’.

 

1.0 Purpose of the Scheme and background

1.1 The purpose of this document is to determine eligibility for a payment under the second round of the Council’s Additional Restrictions Grant Scheme (ARG). The Council, as the business rates billing authority, is responsible for payment of these grants.

1.2 An initial ARG scheme (“the first round”) was initially developed by the Council in response to an announcement made by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy on 31st October 2020 which established and set conditions for an allocation of funding to local authorities titled the Additional Restrictions Grant. Local authorities are given significant discretion on the use of ARG, however Government has stated that it wishes the funding to support businesses which have to close or are otherwise severely affected due to localised or widespread national restrictions being put in place to manage coronavirus and save lives. These grant payments are being administered by local authorities but funded by an allocation from Government.

1.3 The first round of the Council’s ARG scheme opened in November 2020 and closed for new applications in December 2020.

1.4 Due to imposition of further national restrictions in January 2021, the Government announced that local authorities will receive an additional allocation under the ARG to allow further business support to be provide.

1.5 Whilst the awarding of grants is at the Council’s discretion, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has set down criteria which must be met by each business making an application.

1.6 The scheme applies where local restrictions (LCAL3) are put in place or where a widespread national lockdown is announced.

1.7 Local and national restrictions are legally binding restrictions imposed on specific Local Authority areas or the whole of England, where the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care requires the closure of businesses in a local area under regulations made using powers in Part 2A of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 in response to the threat posed by coronavirus and commonly as part of a wider set of measures.

1.8 Grants under this scheme will be available for the 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years only.

1.9 No grant shall be paid for any period where the localised or widespread national restrictions were in place prior to 14th October 2020.


2.0 Funding

2.1 Under the Additional Restrictions Grant Scheme (ARG) provisions, Local Authorities received an initial one-off lump sum payment amounting to £20 per head in each area when local restrictions (LCAL3) or widespread national restrictions are imposed. The Council’s initial allocation was around £1.7 million.

2.2 On 5th January 2021, the Chancellor announced that Local Authorities will receive a further lump sum payment to fund additional activities under the ARG. Each Local Authority will be allocated an additional award based on population and distributed from a total pot of around £500 million. The Council’s additional allocation is expected to be around £700,000.

 

3.0 Eligibility criteria and awards

3.1 The Council is expected to use ARG funding for business support activities and Government envisage that this will primarily take the form of discretionary grants although it can be used for wider business support activities.

3.2 If Local Authorities use the Additional Restriction Grant for direct business support grants, Government has stated that the same conditions of grant must apply as for the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) scheme. However, the Council will have the discretion to alter the amount of funding offered to individual businesses and the frequency of payment.

3.3 Government has stated that the Council may also consider making grant payments to those businesses which, while not legally forced to close are nonetheless severely impacted by the restrictions put in place to control the spread of Covid-19. Government has also stated that the Council may also wish to assist business which are outside of the rating system and which are effectively forced to close.

3.4 The ARG second round will be funded from the Council’s total uncommitted allocation which comprises both the unspent funding from the Council’s initial ARG allocation and the additional allocation made available by the Government in January 2021.

3.5 The Council has decided to reserve 10% of its total uncommitted allocation under the Additional Restrictions Grant to support the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open) scheme in the event that eligible applications for that grant scheme exceed available funding.

3.6 The Council has also decided to reserve 10% of its total uncommitted allocation under the Additional Restrictions Grant to provide general business support activities to be announced at a later date.

3.7 The remaining 80% of the Council’s total uncommitted allocation has been made available for the grant scheme to which this policy relates.

3.8 The Council has previously operated a first round of ARG funding which operated under a separate policy. The Council has chosen to expand the eligibility criteria for this second round of ARG funding to ensure a wider range of businesses can be supported.


Eligibility Criteria

3.9 Subject to the conditions set out in Paragraph 3.10, applicants must fall into at least one of the categories below to be eligible to receive an Additional Restriction Grant:

  • A business which forms part of the direct supply chain for hospitality, leisure or accommodation businesses;
  • A business which forms part of the direct supply chain for aviation businesses;
  • A business which directly organises, facilitates or performs at organised events;
  • A business that is not on the rating list that has been forced to close either due to mandatory restrictions or due to the temporary closure of their host premises (including non-essential market traders);
  • A business which can demonstrate a heavy reliance on the ability for people to travel;
  • Any business which relies on close physical contact (e.g. hair and beauty)

3.10 For the avoidance of doubt, applicants will not be eligible to receive a grant from the Additional Restriction Grant if any of the following conditions apply:

  1. They are a business that primarily operates in any of the following sectors: agriculture, forestry or fishing; mining or quarrying; electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply; water supply or sewerage; construction; financial and insurance activities; information and communication activities; real estate activities; education; or human health and social work activities. Businesses primarily operating in manufacturing will only be eligible where it is demonstrated that supplying aviation, hospitality, leisure or accommodation businesses provides a significant proportion of their overall revenue.
  2. They are a business that is eligible for the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) or Closed Lockdown Support Payment except close-contact business
  3. They are a business that does not operate any premises in Rochford District or is only operating from premises in Rochford District on a temporary or infrequent basis.
  4. They are a business that, in the absence of local or national restrictions, would have been operating from premises in another authority area but is presently operating from a domestic premises in Rochford District solely as a consequence of local or national restrictions (e.g. new home-workers)

3.11 The Council will not usually award multiple grants to the same business or individual unless that business or individual can clearly demonstrate that it operates multiple premises in Rochford District. The Council reserves the right to refuse payment to any business or individual that is considered to be intentionally making multiple claims for the same business or premises.

3.12 The Council reserves the right to award grants to exceptional cases where compelling evidence is presented which demonstrates that the business has been seriously affected by national or local restrictions and is not eligible for alternative grant schemes. Decisions regarding exceptional cases will usually be at the discretion of the Assistant Director – Place and Environment in consultation with the relevant Portfolio Holder. It is considered unlikely that applications which are excluded under Paragraph 3.10 will be considered exceptional.

3.13 Applicants will be required to provide evidence proportionate to the need to verify that their business is eligible. Businesses applying as part of a supply chain will be expected to provide evidence of direct and regular services being provided to businesses in those categories, such as invoices, purchase orders or transaction logs. Businesses that have provided infrequent or ‘one-off’ services as part of a supply chain will not be eligible.

 

Award Levels

3.14 The amounts awarded to eligible applicants will normally be based on the rateable value of their hereditament although payments can be paid to businesses that are not subject to Non-Domestic Rating:

  1. Eligible businesses that do not operate from fixed premises will be awarded a one-off payment of £1,334;
  2. Eligible businesses that operate fixed premises that do not appear on the local rating list will be awarded a one-off payment of £4,000;
  3. Eligible businesses occupying hereditaments appearing on the local rating list with a rateable value of exactly £15,000 or under on the date of the commencement of the widespread national restrictions, or do not have a rateable value, will receive a one-off payment of £4,000;
  4. Eligible businesses occupying hereditaments appearing on the local rating list with a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 on the date of the commencement of the widespread national restrictions will receive a one-off payment of £6,000; and
  5. Eligible businesses occupying hereditaments appearing on the local rating list with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 or above on the commencement date of the widespread national restrictions, will receive a one-off payment of £9,000.

3.15 For the avoidance of doubt, ‘fixed premises’ is defined as a domestic or non-domestic address that is the main place of trade for the business and any employees. Businesses operating from mobile premises (such as vehicles) and businesses which enter the premises of others to undertake work are unlikely to be considered to operate from fixed premises.

Excluded businesses – both local and national restrictions

3.16 The following businesses will not be eligible for any award:

  1. Businesses in areas outside the scope of the localised restrictions, as defined by Government and not subject to a widespread national restriction;
  2. Businesses that have chosen to close but have not been legally required to;
  3. Businesses which have already received grant payments that equal the maximum levels of State aid permitted under the de minimis and the COVID-19 Temporary State Aid Framework; and
  4. Businesses that were in administration, are insolvent or where a striking-off notice has been made at the date of the local restriction or widespread national restriction being introduced or at the time of their application being assessed

 

The Effective Date

3.16 The effective date for eligibility is the date of the widespread national or local restrictions (LCAL3). Businesses must have been trading on the first full day of national or LCAL3 restrictions to be eligible to receive grant support.

 

Who can receive the grant?

3.17 In all cases, Government has stated that the person who will receive the grant will be the person who, according to the Council’s records, was the ratepayer in respect of the hereditament at the effective date.

3.18 Where the Council has reason to believe that the information it holds about the ratepayer at the effective date is inaccurate, it may withhold or recover the grant and take reasonable steps to identify the correct ratepayer.

3.19 Where it is subsequently determined that the records held are incorrect, the Council reserves the right to recover any grant incorrectly paid.

3.20 Where any business misrepresents information or contrives to take advantage of the scheme, the Council will look to recover any grant paid and take appropriate legal action. Likewise, if any ratepayer is found to have falsified records in order to obtain a grant.

3.21 Where there is no entry in the rating list for the business, the Council will have discretion to determine who should receive the grant.

 

4.0 How will grants be provided to Businesses?

4.1 The Council is fully aware of the importance of these grants to assist businesses and support the local community and economy. The Council’s Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) scheme together with the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) and Closed Business Lockdown Payment will offer a lifeline to businesses who are struggling to survive during to the COVID-19 crisis.

4.2 Details of how to obtain grants will be published on the Council’s website - www.rochford.gov.uk/coronavirus

4.3 The Council will look to introduce a fast-track system for those businesses which received grant funding in the first round of the Council’s ARG scheme to avoid requiring the reproduction or duplication of information already held by the Council.

4.4 However in all cases, including those of businesses benefitting from any fast-track arrangements under Paragraph 4.3, applicants will be required to confirm that they are eligible and wish to receive the grant. This includes circumstances where the Council already has bank details for the business and are in a position to send out funding immediately. Businesses are under an obligation to notify the Council should they no longer meet the eligibility criteria for any additional grants.

4.4 The Council reserves the right request any supplementary information from businesses, and they should look to provide this, where requested, as soon as possible.

4.5 Businesses who believe they are eligible for a grant award under this policy will be required to apply through a standard form on the Council’s website during a defined application window. An application for an Additional Restriction Grant is deemed to have been made when a duly completed application form is received via the Council’s online procedure within this application window and the applicant has subsequently received a reference number as proof of their application.

4.6 The amount allocated to this grant is finite and it may be necessary to withdraw the grant sooner than the end of the publicised application window should the funding be exhausted. In this case, grants will be awarded on a ‘first come first served’ basis.

4.7 All monies paid under this scheme will be funded by Government and paid to the Council under S31 of the Local Government Act 2003.

 

5.0 EU State Aid requirements

5.1 Any grant is given as aid under the Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current COVID-19 outbreak published on 19 March 2020. This means that businesses receiving support under these provisions can receive up to €800,000 in aid over three years (being the current and the previous two years).

5.2 Any grant awarded is required to comply with the EU law on State Aid. This will involve the applicant declaring to the Council if they have received any other de minimis State aid or aid provided under the EU Commission COVID-19 Temporary Framework.

5.3 If the applicant has not received any other de minimis State aid, they are not required to make that declaration to the Council or to complete any declaration statement.

5.4 For avoidance of doubt, previous business grants and Bounce Back Loans are to be included in any State Aid declaration.

 

6.0 Scheme of Delegation

6.1 The Council has approved this scheme.

6.2 Officers of the Council will administer the scheme and the Assistant Director, Place and Environment is authorised to make technical scheme amendments to ensure it meets the criteria set by the Council and, in line with Government guidance.

 

7.0 Notification of Decisions

7.1 All decisions made by the Council shall be notified to the applicant either in writing or by email. A decision shall be made as soon as practicable after an application is received.

 

8.0 Reviews of Decisions

8.1 The Council will operate an internal review process and will accept an applicant’s request for a review of its decision.

8.2 All such requests must be made in writing to the Council within 14 days of the Council’s decision and should state the reasons why the applicant is aggrieved with the decision of the Council. New information may be submitted at this stage to support the applicant’s appeal.

8.3 The application will be reconsidered by a senior officer, as soon as practicable and the applicant informed in writing or by email of the decision. This decision will then be final.

 

9.0 Complaints

9.1 The Council’s ‘Complaints Procedure’ (available on the Councils website) will be applied in the event of any complaint received about this scheme.

 

10.0 Taxation and the provision of information to Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs (HMRC)

10.1 The Council has been informed by Government that all payments under the scheme are taxable.

10.2 The Council does not accept any responsibility in relation to an applicant’s tax liabilities and all applicants should make their own enquiries to establish any tax position.

10.3 All applicants should note that the Council is required to inform Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of all payments made to businesses.

 

11.0 Managing the risk of fraud

11.1 Neither the Council, nor Government will accept deliberate manipulation of the schemes or fraud. Any applicant caught falsifying information to gain grant money or failing to declare entitlement to any of the specified grants will face prosecution and any funding issued will be recovered from them.

11.2 Applicants should note that, where a grant is paid by the Council, details of each individual grant will be passed to Government.

 

12.0 Recovery of amounts incorrectly paid

12.1 If it is established that any award has been made incorrectly due to error, misrepresentation or incorrect information provided to the Council by an applicant or their representative(s), the Council will look to recover the amount in full.

 

13.0 Data Protection and use of data

13.1 All information and data provided by applicants shall be dealt with in accordance with the Council’s Data Protection policy and Privacy Notices which are available on the Council’s website.