The UK government’s approach to coronavirus support for businesses during the 2020 pandemic has been admirable. The Job Retention Scheme was the first to be launched and was the most inclusive, safeguarding the jobs of almost nine million workers. This was followed by a variety of business support grants, loans and rates relief schemes devised to help businesses of all sizes and across all sectors.
When the UK’s five million self-employed were offered long overdue coronavirus support in the form of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), it was reported that all businesses were now covered and would be able to access financial support to help them through these unprecedented times.
However, even after all these measures were implemented, businesses in Wales, along with business in the rest of the UK, fell through gaps in the system and would still not be eligible for any support.
Who exactly is this grant aimed at?
To address this pressing issue here the Welsh Government has just launched a new grant scheme specifically aimed at start-ups that were not eligible to claim support under existing schemes, as First Minister Mark Drakeford explains:
“A number of people who have started a business in the last year don’t qualify for support from the UK Government’s Self Employment Income Support Scheme and it remains unclear if it will take steps to ensure they will change the criteria to help this group of people.
“This is why we have acted and set up a start-up grant. This has come from our work with Welsh Local Government Association and local authorities to look at what more support the business community needs at this time.”
The businesses that have failed to qualify for support under the SEISS will have started trading between 01 April 2019 and 01 March 2020 and the Welsh government recognises the important roles that these start-ups play in job creation in the Welsh economy.
How much is the grant worth?
Initially, the fund will be worth £5 million and although this represents just 1% of the Economic Resilience Fund – which provides funding for businesses of all sizes – there is scope to increase this in the future.
The new grant will be a lifeline for up to 2,000 start-ups by providing them with £2,500 each. This much needed funding is vital for new businesses at such a critical stage of their lifecycle and without this help they may not survive.
Looking at the bigger picture business owners in the Principality are benefiting from the fact that the Welsh Government provides one of the most generous and extensive packages of business support in the UK, totalling £1.7 billion. Almost 60,000 businesses in Wales have taken advantage of business rates grants worth in excess of £715 million. Additionally, the Development Bank of Wales Covid loan support has helped 1,000 SMEs.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics confirm that the support is reaching those that need it most. A total of 34% of businesses in Wales have benefitted from Welsh Government or UK Government coronavirus support in comparison to just 21% of businesses in Scotland and only 14% of businesses in England.
What are the qualifying criteria?
To be eligible for the start-up grant, businesses must:
How do you apply?
Applications opened on Monday, 29 June 2020 at the same time as the second phase of the Economic Resilience Fund opened to claims. Applicants will need to submit a two-page application form and self-declaration supported by evidence. The grant will be administered by local authorities and businesses can check their eligibility by visiting the Business Wales website: https://fundchecker.businesswales.gov.wales/
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