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What are Restart Grants and how can I apply?

In his 2021 Budget, as revealed on 3 March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out a £65bn three-point plan to: “Provide support for jobs and businesses as we emerge from the pandemic and forge a path to recovery”.

The Chancellor said his immediate priority “continues to be supporting those hardest hit”, with extensions to the furlough scheme, financial support for more self-employed people, business grants, loans and VAT cuts – bringing the Government’s total fiscal pandemic support to more than £407bn (source: HM Treasury).

What is the Restart Grant?

In what will be welcome news for many small firms, the Chancellor announced a new £5bn Restart Grant scheme, available to some businesses in England, which is intended to “help the high street”.

Restart Grants are a one-off cash grant available from April 2021 to hard-hit hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care (ie hairdressers and beauty salons) and gym businesses in England with premises that are trying to reopen and get back on their feet following the latest lockdown.

The Restart Grant scheme will replace the monthly Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) and Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open), which will both close at the end of March. The Restart Grant scheme is scheduled to come to an end on 21 June 2021, when the government plans to lift all lockdown restrictions in England.

Who does and doesn’t qualify for the Restart Grant?

To be eligible for the Restart Grant your business must:

  • be based in England
  • operate from property on which it pays business rates
  • have been forced to close because of the national lockdown from 5 January 2021 or between 5 November and 2 December 2020
  • have been unable to provide its normal in-person customer service from its premises.

Your business won’t be eligible if:

  • it’s not based in England
  • you’ve continued to operate during national lockdown periods, because you don’t need to provide in-person customer services from your premises
  • you’ve chosen to close, but haven’t been required to as part of national restrictions
  • your business is in administration, insolvent or has been struck off the Companies House register
  • you’ve already reached the permitted subsidy limit.

Local authorities in England will also get an extra £425m to distribute grants to businesses that are not eligible for Restart Grants, yet are still severely affected by Covid lockdown restrictions.

How much is available via the Restart Grant?

Almost 700,000 small-business owners could benefit, with “non-essential retail businesses” able to get up to £6,000 per premises through the scheme. Such shops won’t be able to reopen in England until 12 April.

Those due to open later in hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gyms, can receive up to £18,000, depending on their rateable value.

How to apply for a Restart Grant

If you believe that your small business is eligible to apply for the Restart Grant, visit your local council’s website for more information, because local authority’s have been given responsibility for distributing the grant funding.

If necessary, you can visit government website GOV.UK to find the name of your local council by entering your postcode. After searching you’ll be given a link to your local council’s website, where you should be able to find more information.

Other sources of financial support

If your business does not qualify for a Restart Grant, it may qualify for other financial support from the government, which has announced a range of other support measures in the Budget for small businesses. According to the government, these include:

  • An extension of the Coronavirus Job Support Scheme to September 2021 across the UK. In other words, employers will be able to continue to furlough eligible staff.
  • An extension of the UK-wide Self Employment Income Support scheme to September 2021, with “600,000 more people who filed a tax return in 2019-20 now able to claim for the first time”.
  • A new UK-wide Recovery Loan Scheme to make available loans between £25,001 and £10m, and asset and invoice finance between £1,000 and £10m.
  • An extension to the VAT reduction to 5% for hospitality, accommodation and attractions across the UK until the end of September, followed by a 12.5% rate for a further six months until 31 March 2022.
  • Some 750,000 eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will benefit from business rates relief.
  • Unrelated to Covid-19, your business may be eligible for a startup business grant

Visit GOV.UK to see a comprehensive list of links to further information about government financial support available to businesses during coronavirus.

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