Last chance for businesses to apply for discretionary grants

Businesses in Mansfield district have another opportunity to apply for government-funded financial assistance to support them during the COVID-19 crisis.

The second and final round of Discretionary Grants with revised criteria is open for applications on a first come first served basis from today (Monday 10 August) until Friday 14 August.  

This fund is aimed at small and micro businesses that can demonstrate they have suffered a significant fall in income because of COVID-19, have ongoing fixed property-related costs and occupy property or shared office space. 

It can only support a limited number of businesses, which have not already received financial support including the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Fund.

More than £19m has been distributed in grants to 1,628 businesses in the district since the start of the pandemic.

This includes:

  • 1,427, £10,000 grants, totalling £14.27m, to small business in receipt of small business rate relief or retail businesses with a rateable value of up to £15,000.
  • 180, £25k grants totalling £4.5m for businesses with a business rate value of between £15,000 and less than £51,000.
  • 35 Discretionary Grants totalling £429,000. These are paid to small and micro businesses that don’t qualify for other COVID-related grants but have been affected and have ongoing fixed property-related costs and occupy property or shared office space.

Cllr Craig Whitby, Portfolio Holder for Corporate and Finance, said: "The council has done a fantastic job in distributing these grants and the money has proved a lifeline for many local businesses. 

"There may still be a few businesses out there which qualify for this help and for those that did not fit into the criteria for the £10,000 and £25,000 grants, they could still qualify for assistance from the Discretionary Grants scheme."

Check the eligibility criteria and apply online. This page also contains details of other business support measures.

Case study

Among the recent recipients of the Discretionary Grants is Marketing Consultant Victoria Prince who runs Touchpoints Marketing out of the Innovation Centre in Mansfield.

She said: "When lockdown kicked in, my business was hit, with 98 per cent of my clients cutting their spend with me.

"I had to act quickly, adapt my offering and pivot my brand to survive, so I launched online courses.

During lockdown, sole trader Victoria, a finalist in the East Midlands Chamber awards for Entrepreneur of the Year, designed, developed and launched an online course for businesses called the Marketing MOT, and 60 businesses signed up. It costs £97 but is currently free for businesses in Mansfield.

"I want to share my experience with other small businesses which may be facing similar struggles to show them how to emerge in a stronger position," explained Victoria.

Another concept Victoria developed in lockdown, was the Marketing Maverick online course, created to boost the confidence of marketing graduates to help them to become freelancers straight out of university. In the first week, 30 Nottingham Trent University's graduates signed up.

"I nearly didn't apply for the Discretionary Grant as it took a while to understand what might be available to me, but a helpful email from the council explained things.

"I put a lot of time and effort into the application so I was very happy to get the news to say I had been successful.

"This isn't just about helping my business, though. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, even when my business was smashed to pieces, I wanted to help other businesses weather the storm, using the 15 years of marketing experience that I have."

Victoria helpfully condensed 60 pages of government information into a 14-page guide for businesses to help them understand what is happening and how to communicate changes to their customers. She also offered free consultation phone calls, which over 30 businesses took up. 

"Now that I've been fortunate to have the grant secured, I have honoured 100 free places to Mansfield-based businesses to take my online course to help them to create clear marketing strategies and feel back in control," said Victoria. 

"Without the grant I wouldn't now be in a position to help other businesses so readily. I wouldn't be able to rebuild my businesses to the speed that my ambition allows."

Find out more on the Touchpoints Marketing website (opens in new window).

Published: August 10th 2020