Small print of Government’s £617m ‘top-up’ grant fund proves a cruel letdown: The Yorkshire Post says

Anyone with experience of business will know how vital it is to check the small print of any deal. That maxim appears to be particularly relevant when it comes to the Government’s new top-up fund which is supposedly going to offer up to £617m of urgently-needed support to small businesses that have thus far been excluded from coronavirus grant initiatives.

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Alok Sharma whose department jointly set up the fund. Picture: Pippa Fowles/Crown Copyright/10 Downing Street/PA Wire
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Alok Sharma whose department jointly set up the fund. Picture: Pippa Fowles/Crown Copyright/10 Downing Street/PA Wire

Yet what should have been good news comes with a major catch.

The scheme will not be open to any business owner eligible for the self-employed income support scheme – an initiative the Government says covers 95 per cent of people who receive the majority of their income from self-employment.

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The news will be particularly disappointing to bed and breakfast owners and market traders who were cited as among those most likely to benefit from the fund in the Government press release, with no mention of the rules that are likely to make most of them ineligible which have now been revealed by this newspaper.

As Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake says, this extra money should at least help some of the businesses which have previously been missed out altogether from support, and it is undoubtedly true that the Government has taken huge steps to protect the livelihoods of millions of workers in this country through a range of unprecedented measures at great cost to the public purse.

However, today’s news will be particularly cruel for those who will have seen the Government’s press release at the weekend and hoped they were in with at least a chance of receiving some vitally-needed extra funding to help their business survive. That is especially the case for bed and breakfast owners whose homes are also on the line at the moment and are simply excluded from the main grant schemes offering one-off payments of £10,000 because they pay council tax instead of business rates.

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James Mitchinson