Small Business Discretionary Fund opens for co-working businesses

Following a campaign by Engine Shed, Business West and TechSPARK to call on the government and local authorities to extend the grants scheme to cover companies using shared workspaces, a new small business discretionary fund was announced by central government on 1 May 2020.

The Small Business Discretionary Grants scheme is now open for applications from co-working businesses in the West of England.

The four local authorities in the West of England (Bath and NE Somerset, Bristol City Council, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire) have jointly adopted principles for the scheme and claim process, and will offer financial support to small businesses that can demonstrate: 

  • they have suffered a significant fall in income because of the Covid-19 pandemic 
  • have fixed property-related costs  
  • employ fewer than 50 employees 

A few important points for prospective applicants:

  • Applications are open via website portals on respective authority pages, closing Monday 8 June. Applications received within this time period will be evaluated after the portals close. This is to fairly evaluate applications and target payment to businesses based on need and avoids a ‘first come first served’ approach.
  • Given this ‘cohort’ approach there is no advantage to be gained in applying as soon as the portal opens, and we recommend that applications are only submitted once full documentation from your business is collated and ready for upload and that these are submitted comfortably ahead of the deadline.
  • The initial entitlement for workspace businesses will be based on employee numbers (as per HMRC PAYE returns): 0-10 employees – £2,500; 11-50 employees – £5,000.
  • The applicant must have exclusive use of a unit within shared workspace premises and are not eligible for the original scheme because they are not liable to business rates in their own name, nor can they be in liquidation or struck off.
  • Only one application can be made per business across the West of England region, regardless of how many workspace units may qualify for the scheme.
  • Grants will be available only to businesses making an application within the window and who provide the necessary documentation to support their eligibility.

Where to apply

The Small Business Discretionary Fund is being delivered by the four local authorities – so to apply, you need to head to the region that covers your business. Not all of the authorities have their application process live yet so we’ve directed to where we’d expect them to appear: