Frequently asked questions

1. Eligibility requirements

1.1 Am I eligible to apply for discretionary support?

Please read the guidance on the main web page, these FAQs and the guidance within the online application form, as this will help you determine if you are eligible to apply. You must be a small business or a charity in the following circumstances:

  • Mandated to cease their main trading activity (that provides most income) but do not have a business rates assessment
  • Or will lose 50% or more of their business income (turnover) for January 2021 compared to January 2020 (or October 2020 if not trading in January 2020) as a result of the covid-19 restrictions or the covid-19 circumstances

Other criteria also applies, see the criteria on the main page for the scheme. Applications can only be made using the online application form on the Discretionary Grant Support page.

1.2 I applied for the Discretionary Grant Fund 2 (for the November restrictions), do I get an automatic payment or do I need to apply again?

We have emailed successful Discretionary Grant Fund 2 applicants a simplified application form as we only need some additional information to process the discretionary support for the January 2021 restrictions. If you have not received this email, first check you junk mail folder, if you still cannot find the email please contact us.

Please do not apply using the application form on this website, as this is only for new applicants, and please do not apply twice. We will ensure that you receive the relevant support.

1.3 Which grant scheme am I eligible for / do I need to make two applications, one for each scheme?

There is a single application form for both the Discretionary Grant Fund 3 (monthly payment) and the Exceptional Circumstances Fund 2 (one off grant).

If you are mandated to close, the online application form will ensure that you apply for the Exceptional Circumstances Fund 2 (one-off grant) and the Discretionary Grant Fund 3. If you are not mandated to close but have lost 50%+ turnover, the online form will take an application for the Exceptional Circumstances Fund 2 only. Please do not make two applications.

1.4 I don't currently meet the "mandated to close" criteria or I have not suffered a 50% loss in business income due to the restrictions announced in January 2021 , can I still apply?

Unfortunately the scheme is currently for businesses either closed due to the restrictions or have seen a 50% loss in business income as a result of the new restrictions. We understand that trading conditions are difficult and we will monitor the support that we are able to provide to businesses during this period. The page available via this link will reflect the current support available: Covid-19: Support for businesses.

1.5 I've applied for the scheme(s) and I haven't been informed of the outcome of my application, when will I be notified and receive my grant funding?

We aim to contact all applicants within 25 days of receipt to notify of the outcome. We are experiencing a high volume of applications and enquiries and we appreciate your patience in this 25 day period. If you contact us, we will not be able to process your application more quickly.

1.6 I am eligible for/have received the Local restrictions grant scheme (closed) grant, can I also apply for a grant from these discretionary schemes?

Unfortunately businesses that qualify for the Local restrictions grant scheme (closed) are not eligible for this discretionary support. The council is constantly monitoring these schemes and grants/eligibility circumstances may change in future. The following page will reflect the current support available: Covid-19: Support for businesses.

1.7 Can I make an application for the November 2020 national restrictions or for trading that was affected during December?

Unfortunately the discretionary support for November (Discretionary Grant Fund 2) has now closed to applications and it is not possible to take new applications for this period. There is no discretionary support for the period of December, the available funds are focused on the periods with the largest restrictions.

1.8 If there are further local or national restrictions will I get another grant from this scheme?

Subject to the availability of funding we aim to award funding to businesses/charities whose main trade must cease, a monthly payment when closed (Discretionary Grant Fund 3) in additional to providing a one off grant (Exceptional Circumstances Fund 2). For businesses that are not mandated to cease trading but have lost 50% or more business income, the Exceptional Circumstances Fund 2 provides a one off grant only. The council will keep this scheme in review in light of the conditions and where funding allows, it will respond to the needs of businesses. The page available via this link will reflect the current support available: Covid-19: Support for businesses.

1.9 I run two separate businesses, am I eligible for two grants?

If you are a sole trader and you use more than one business name or have more than one type of trading activity, as there is only one legal trading entity, only one grant (including local restrictions or discretionary support grants) can be awarded. The only exception to this, is if a businesses has more than one business rates assessment (see question below).

Businesses who have owners or directors that are the same (or similar) as other businesses applying or have received funding from this grant or the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) will generally be considered ineligible unless there are separate premises with separate business rates assessments.

1.10 I have multiple sites/premises in Herefordshire, am I eligible for more than one grant?

If you are not a ratepayer (don't have a rateable valuation for premises) only one grant award will be made. If you are a ratepayer, we will consider a grant for every premises that has a rateable value where you can demonstrate each premises has suffered a loss of business income (50%+)

1.11 If I am successful, what grant award will I receive?

For the Discretionary Grant Fund 3 (monthly payment) you will receive an award based on the number of your employees (in Herefordshire) for each period of restrictions. See the main criteria page for details.

For the Exceptional Circumstances Fund 2, a one-off grant payment will be made to successful applicants. Payments will not be in excess of the losses that will be experienced and for businesses/charities receiving the above monthly grant payment, this payment will also be taken into account when calculating one the off grant award.

1.12 I have premises outside of Herefordshire, can I apply for a grant for these?

You can only apply for funding for regular business activities or premises based within Herefordshire. Market traders or similar businesses with a regular pitch/trading presence in Herefordshire (must trade most weeks of the year) are eligible to apply as are those with premises on the ratings lists. For business operations or premises based outside of Herefordshire, please contact the relevant local authority for that area.

2. Questions in the form or clarifications of the criteria

2.1 What is a 50% loss of business income and actual (£) loss and how do I calculate this?

This is a fall of the business income (or turnover / total sales) for January 2021 when compared to January 2020 (or October 2020 if not trading in January 2020) as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions or the situation.

It is not a fall in profit and it must be related to the restrictions or Covid-19 situation and not because of other circumstances such as seasonal trading variations or sickness of the business owner/staff. Businesses that usually supply events or hospitality are one example of those that are likely to have experienced a loss of at least 50% of business income due to the restrictions.

Businesses and charities should compare their business income (turnover) for January 2021 to January 2020 (or October 2020 if not trading in January 2020) and use the following calculations:

  • % loss in business income = January 2021 income / January 2020 income x 100
  • Actual (£) loss in business income = January 2020 income - January 2021 income

In exceptional circumstances a different comparative month can be used but please explain this in your form.

2.2 What does trading on 4 January 2021 mean?

Your business must have been open and available to provide its goods or services if demanded by customers. The business should therefore have evidence of buying and selling of goods and services around this date (or evidence that they are marketing their services). This can include, for example, a retailer engaged in selling products to the general public, or a law firm providing legal services to businesses. If bank statements from December/January do not show many transactions/trading please explain this and provide statements for a longer period.

2.3 What is defined as a business or a company?

A business is any individual or company trading with the aim of making a profit. Businesses can take several legal forms including a sole trader (person), a partnership (more than one person) or a company (a separate legal identity and registered with companies house). With a sole trader or partnership, the individuals(s) and the business have the same identity, even if using a business/trading name or several different names. A company has a separate legal identity to the owners or directors and is listed with Companies House.

2.4 What is a micro business, small business or charity?

As defined under the Companies Act 2006, a small business must satisfy two or more of the following requirements in a year - Turnover: not more than £10.2 million; Balance sheet total: not more than 5.1 million; Number of employees: a headcount of staff of less than 50.

A micro business must satisfy two or more of the following requirements in a year - Turnover: not more than £632,000; Balance sheet total: not more than £316,000; Number of employees: a headcount of up to 10. Turnover, balance sheet total and headcount includes that of any parent or subsidiary company, including part ownerships.

A registered charity is an organisation established for charitable purposes, listed on the Charity Commission's register of Charities.

2.5 What is a ratepayer, a business rates assessment or the ratings list?

A business rate assessment means business rates valuation/assessment of a commercial premises that is used by the business and included on the Herefordshire Council Ratings List. The business must be listed as the ratepayer but there is no requirement to actually pay business rates, the ratepayer could benefit from a relief or exemption. The ratepayer is who Herefordshire Council identify as the ratepayer on 4 January 2021. See Business rates relief and exemptions for more information.

2.6 What are Full Time or Equivalent Employees (FTEs) and what period should I use to provide the FTE calculation (and if required evidence)?

An FTE is an individual or collection of two or more other individuals that work 30 hours per week. Therefore an employee working 45 hours a week is one FTE but three employees working 15 hours a week each are 1 and a half FTEs.

For staff on a payroll, you will need to use the period that includes 4 November or the period before this. For example, if you run first to last day of the month payroll for all staff, please use December 2020 to provide your full time equivalent employees. For business owners or directors who pay themselves through drawings or dividends, please use a reasonable period for the calculation such as the calendar month (December) before 4 January 2021.

2.7 I'm a business or charity that does not have any direct employees but I have volunteers or self-employed people working for me. Would these count towards the 0.5 FTE (15 hours per week) requirement?

Unfortunately one of the eligibility requirements is that businesses must provide employment for half of one FTE (15 hours per week). This can include the business owner or director(s) if they work on the business and take remuneration (equating to 15 hours at, at least, minimum wage). Charities can include evidenced volunteer time in this calculation for up to 4 FTE equivalents.

3. Evidence required

3.1 What evidence is required to be uploaded with my application?

The criteria on the main page of the website and application form state what is required, please ensure that you have electronic copies available before you complete the application form. All businesses are required to provide a bank statement that shows trading up until 4 January 2021. Please check the guidance and only include the evidence that you need.

3.2 Which bank statement should I provide?

An electronic bank statement(s) should be for the period that demonstrates trading up until 4 January 2021. If you cannot obtain a statement from your bank for 4 January 2021, please provide the next nearest statement to this. Please redact bank account numbers and sort codes but the bank account name should be clear and reflect the business name.

3.3 What evidence do I need to support the loss of business income claimed?

Evidence to support the losses experienced needs to be provided. Examples include management accounts/projections for January 2021 and filed accounts for January 2020 (or October 2020 if not trading in January 2020). Cancelled orders, letters from customers that demonstrate reduced work linked to the restrictions/Covid-19 could further evidence this. It is for the business or charity to evidence the loss in business income and what is required/available may vary depending on circumstances.

4. Problems with the online the application form

4.1 When I click "next" on the form, the form goes back to the top of the page, how do I complete the form?

It might be that you have not completed one of the required questions. If this is the case, after pressing next, it will go to the top of the page again, and show the "jump to first error" box as below. Questions that need to be completed will have an ! in front of them. If you click on "jump to first error" it will take you to the first error on the page. If after submitting your application you do not see the form successfully submitted screen, your application will not have been submitted and you will need to complete the form again.

Alternatively the form may have timed out. You have up to an hour to complete each page of the application form otherwise it will timeout and you will have to re-enter all information again. We therefore recommend that you prepare information and evidence before completing the application, so that you can cut and paste information and complete each page in less than 30 minutes.

You should also ensure that all attachments are less than 5mb in total.

4.2 I'm asked to read the guidance within the application form before completing but I cannot view the full application form without inputting data?

You are encouraged to read the questions and guidance within the application form before completing and submitting your final application. The application form questions are over three pages and it is possible to view these by completing simple information on the first two pages. Information is only submitted to us when you complete the last page and submit the application.

4.3 Can I save my application form and come back to it later?

No, unfortunately the form does not allow you to do this. The guidance notes state what evidence we require you to submit with your application. Please have this to hand as it will need to be uploaded as part of the application process and you will not be able to submit your form without this.

5. Questions after you have submitted your application

5.1 How will I know that my application has been submitted?

When you press submit you will be presented with a page which says thank you for your application and provides your reference number. You will also receive a confirmation email after submitting your application. If you do not receive a confirmation email please contact us within 48 hours of submitting your application, using the contact form.

5.2 When will I know the outcome of my grant application and when will I be paid if it is successful?

Applications will receive their final assessment and pre-payment checks after the review date stated. We aim to process applications as soon as possible and notify you of the outcome within 25 working days of receipt. We also aim to make payment runs within this timeframe but it will take two working days for you to receive the payment in your bank account.

5.3 I have been contacted for my bank details, does this mean I will receive a grant and when will it be paid?

Applicants that have passed the first stage assessment will be contacted for payment details by either phone or email. Bank details are required to complete the pre-payment checks and to make the final payment if your application is successful. If you have been contacted for bank details it does not necessarily mean your application has been successful. The timescales will be as described above.

5.4 Why am I contacted by phone or email for bank details and how can I tell it is not a scam?

All payments will be made via BACS as this is the quickest and most cost effective method of making the grant payment. To meet BACS online security requirements we cannot currently take bank details online and we will contact you by phone or email for these. Please take care when providing bank details and ensure that it is Herefordshire Council that is contacting you. We will be able to provide information from your application to verify that it is us. We will only ask you for the account number, sort code and payee name. We do not require any other information and if you are not sure that it is us, please do not provide the information.

6. Other

6.1 What can I use the grant for?

The grant is paid to businesses to use at their discretion to cover costs or other business expenses related to reductions in trading due to the restrictions. Please note that grants are classed as business income and should be recorded in your accounts as such. Whether you'll end up paying tax on the grant income will depend on whether your business makes a profit in the year of receipt or the grant just reduces the businesses loss.

6.2 Do I have to pay the grant back?

Grants are recoverable (clawback) from any business caught falsifying their records to gain grant money or for any grants paid in error. You must notify us if the business no longer meets the eligibility criteria at any point, for example if the business becomes insolvent.

6.3 If I am turned down for a grant, can I appeal?

Due to the high volume of applications anticipated, there will be no appeal process. In the first instance you can contact us to seek clarification on the decision. Following this you can make a complaint to the council, if your concerns have not been addressed.

6.4 What does insolvency or administration mean?

When in the case of

(a) a company:

(i) it is deemed unable to pay its debts within the meaning of sections 123 or 268 of the

Insolvency Act 1986 (“Act”)

(ii) it enters administration within the meaning of Schedule B1 to the Act

(iii) on the appointment of an administrative receiver or a receiver or manager of its property under Chapter I of Part III of the Act, or the appointment of a receiver under Chapter II of Part III of the Act

(iv) on the passing of a resolution for voluntary winding-up without a declaration of solvency under section 89 of the Act or

(v) on the making of a winding-up order under Part IV or V of the Act

(b) a partnership:

(i) any partner is the subject of any individual arrangement or any other event or proceedings referred to in clauses (a) to (d) in the definition of “Insolvent”

(ii) on the making of a winding-up order against it under any provision of the Act as applied by an order under section 420 of the Act or

(iii) sequestration is awarded on the estate of the partnership under section 12 of the

Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985 or the partnership grants a trust deed for its creditors

(c) an individual:

(i) they are deemed either unable to pay debts or as having no reasonable prospect of doing so, in either case, within the meaning of section 268 of the Act

(ii) on the making of a bankruptcy order against them under Part IX of the Act or SCH3/ 6

(iii) on the sequestration of their estate under the Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1985 or when they grant a trust deed for their creditors and

(d) any party:

(i) it suspends, or threatens to suspend, payment of its debts or is unable to pay its debts as they fall due or admits inability to pay its debts

(ii) it commences negotiations with all or any class of its creditors with a view to rescheduling any of its debts, or makes a proposal for or enters into any compromise or arrangement with its creditors

(iii) it enters into an arrangement, compromise or composition in satisfaction of its debts

(iv) a person becomes entitled to appoint a receiver over its assets or a receiver is appointed over its assets or

(v) it suspends or ceases, or threatens to suspend or cease, to carry on all or a substantial part of its business