A new coronavirus discretionary grant support scheme will open to businesses in Cumbria from Monday.

The Government has made additional funding available to local councils to provide further grants to businesses which have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the South Lakeland, Eden, Copeland and Carlisle council areas, applications for the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund will open on Monday.

Allerdale Borough Council said it would be following a similar timescale and would reveal more details soon.

Barrow Borough Council said it was also aiming to open applications on Monday.

The new grants are in addition to more than £160m that has been paid out in Cumbria in the form of other support for businesses hit by the virus shutdown.

Anyone who wants to apply for the grants should do so via the website of their local authority.

People will need to submit their application within two weeks, after which the applications will close.

Once the two week window has closed, applications will be assessed with funding prioritised and paid out to businesses.

Councils in Cumbria have been working together since the initial announcement of the new round of funding to develop a shared approach.

Although each of the councils have been provided with different sums of money they say they intend to support the largest number of businesses possible, while still following the government’s guidelines.

The Government has set down key criteria for businesses to be able to access the fund.

Eligible businesses must:

· Have been trading on March 11 this year

· Have not been eligible or received a grant from the existing grant schemes or other support schemes (excluding the Self-employed Income Support Scheme)

The Government has said the grants are aimed at small or micro businesses, those with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs and those which can demonstrate they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the Covid-19 crisis.

They are also aimed at businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000.

Grants can be allocated in amounts of £25,000 and £10,000.

The local authorities have discretion on any amounts they wish to provide under £10,000.

Eden District Council said it would prioritise support for small businesses in shared offices or flexible workspaces, regular market traders with fixed building costs, small charity properties and B&Bs which pay council tax instead of business rates.

In Eden grants will be provided on a sliding scale between £2,500 and £10,000. How much a business receives will depend on its individual circumstances, including amount of fixed costs, number of employees, and financial loss arising from the lockdown.

Applications are also invited from small manufacturing businesses; suppliers to the hospitality or leisure sectors; and other businesses which can demonstrate exceptional hardship relating to ongoing fixed property-related costs. These will be assessed in that order subject to sufficient funding being available.

Businesses in Copeland can apply for a grant between £2,000 and £10,000.

Copeland said its priorities included, but were not limited to; small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces that do not have their own business rates assessment, regular market traders with fixed costs such as rent who do not have their own business rates assessment, B&Bs which pay council tax and charity properties in receipt of Charitable Rate Relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.

However, it added any small businesses, in any sector, that have been significantly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and are not eligible for other Government hardship schemes, can apply.

A spokesperson on behalf of the Cumbrian councils said: “We are genuinely grateful that central Government has enabled local councils to support their areas with further business grants. In Cumbria alone, we have provided grants totalling more than £160 million since the pandemic struck.

“It’s also reassuring to know that Government has listened and acted upon our and our partners’ calls to include those businesses who may have not met the criteria for the scheme.

"Initially ruling out those who were eligible for the Self-employed Income Support Scheme could have led to many of our most affected businesses missing out through no fault of their own.

“Unfortunately, we realise that a number of businesses may still not be eligible and the money provided won’t support all those in need. We will continue talking to Government to ensure Cumbrian businesses get the vital help they need.”