Applications for the grant have now closed.

The government has provided Wirral Council, and other neighbouring local authorities in the Liverpool City Region, with further Additional Restrictions Grant payments (ARG3). This fund is to support businesses severely impacted by the rise of the Omicron variant and which are not eligible for the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant OHLG. It will be allocated to those businesses most in need in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors. For the avoidance of doubt businesses that have successfully applied for Liverpool City Region Trading On Scheme October 2021 Grant funding will not be awarded further grant funding under this Scheme and should not apply.

The council will deal with complete and valid applications to this scheme only on a first come – first served basis.

Wirral Council’s ARG3 allocation is £403,379. The council anticipates high demand for ARG3 grant funding, and that demand will exceed the grant funds available. The council anticipates that not all applications received during the grant window will be approved for a grant payment.

In determining the criteria of this grant scheme, the council has had to balance defraying the small allocation of funding within the shortest period of time and supporting those businesses that can evidence being most impacted by the Omicron variant. 

The application, processing and delivery timescales are very short and the funding available is unlikely to meet demand from all eligible businesses. The council will therefore deal with complete and valid applications only on a first come – first served basis.  Businesses are therefore advised to apply for the grants as soon as practicable, to ensure that their applications are complete and accurate and to ensure that all the required evidence is attached to the online grant form. Any application that does not have all the required information or evidence will be treated as invalid, rejected and disregarded for purposes of priority/place holding.

Wirral Council reserves the right to vary the terms of the ARG3 scheme or suspend or close the scheme with immediate effect, without notice and at any time. 

The ARG3 grant scheme was open for applications from 10am on Monday 24 January 2022, and closed at 5pm on Friday 4 February 2022.

Eligibility

Eligible business must be:

  • a Small or Micro business as described 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 of not more than £5.1 million; staff headcount of not more 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 of not more than £316,000; staff headcount of not more than 10.
  • based in the Liverpool City Region
  • employ 1 to 50 staff (a sole director, or self-employed person counts as one staff member)
  • able to demonstrate that trading activities have been significantly impacted by the Omicron variant and provide information in the free text box to prove this, for example, the impact on business turnover, temporary business closure, loss of regular business income, cancellation or loss of contracts or bookings, proof of loss of income
  • trading as at date of application and continues to trade, that is, continuing to trade with a view to making a profit or surplus (not a dormant company). A business is excluded if it is:
  1. dissolved or about to be dissolved
  2. a dormant company
  3. insolvent or if insolvency action had been instigated against it
  • not made a successful application for Liverpool City Region Trading On Scheme October 2021 Grant funding
  • applicants will also be required to self-certify that they meet the eligibility criteria.

Please note: a business may apply for one grant only, a business that occupies several commercial premises in the Liverpool City Region should apply to the local authority borough where its largest site is located.

As part of the appraisal process, Wirral Council will take into account whether: the business is based in commercial property or whether it is home-based; the level of fixed costs of the business; the number people employed by the business; its ability/inability to trade online; and the consequent scale of Omicron losses.

Who can apply for this funding?

For the avoidance of doubt, the ARG3 grant is intended for businesses that are ineligible for the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant (OHLG). If you think you are eligible for the OHLG grant you can still apply to Wirral Council, view further details.

The ARG3 grant is targeted at businesses that meet the criteria set out below, that is, those businesses that have been severely impacted by the Omicron variant and are not eligible to apply for OHLG:

  • accommodation (not Airbnb)
  • breweries
  • caterers and catering suppliers and equipment
  • English language schools
  • entertainment industries, for example, self-employed musicians, promoters, artist agents and management companies
  • events industries, for example, marquee, sound and lighting, security company, event entertainment agency, event planner and management, event photographer, event and hospitality staffing agency
  • freelance and mobile businesses, for example, caterers, events, hair, beauty
  • gyms
  • hospitality businesses
  • leisure businesses
  • nightclubs
  • personal care
  • the travel and tourism sector e.g., group travel, travel agents and tour operators and facilitators, coach operators, limousine hire
  • theatres
  • wedding related businesses
  • wholesalers
  • those in the supply chains of the hospitality and leisure sectors

Businesses that are trading and that meet the eligibility criteria may apply to receive funding under this scheme.

For the purposes of this grant scheme, a business is trading if it is engaged in business activity. This should be interpreted as carrying on a trade or profession or buying and selling goods or services to generate turnover.  To help further, some trading indicators are included below that can help assess what can be defined as trading for the purposes of the grant schemes. Indicators that a business is trading are:

  • the business continues to trade, including online, via click and collect services etc.
  • the business is engaged in business activity, that is, Managing accounts, preparing for reopening, planning, and implementing COVID-safe measures

This list of indicators is not exhaustive, and Wirral Council will use their discretion to determine if a business is trading.

Fully constituted businesses in liquidation, dissolved, struck off or subject to a striking-off notice are not eligible under these conditions.

In administering the grant, the Council will adopt the following priorities:

  • providing assistance to those businesses in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors that have been significantly impacted by the Omicron variant
  • providing support to as many businesses as possible within the available resource
  • delivering a grant application scheme and a decision-making process which are clear, straightforward, and swift.

Grant payments

Applications will be assessed in order of date received as long as they are complete. Incomplete applications will be rejected. Applicants will receive an automatic response and a unique reference number (URN) which is confirmation that the application has been submitted and is in the system for assessment. 

It may take around 21 days for applications to be fully assessed and to enable sufficient time for pre-payment checks to be carried out via government approved third parties.

Successful applicants will be notified by email, and payments will be made by BACS (this usually takes up to 5 working days to arrive in accounts).

Home-based businesses £1,000
Businesses in commercial property £3,000

The grant amounts given to individual businesses will be subject to subsidy allowances. Businesses that have already received grant payments that equal the maximum permitted levels of subsidy will not be eligible to receive funding.

ARG funding cannot be used as a wage support mechanism or for capital projects.

The council does not accept any liability for any Internet, IT, or operational issues that may arise when a business applies or attempts to apply for a grant. 

Businesses will need to notify Wirral Council immediately if they no longer meet the eligibility criteria for the ARG3 grant (for example, if they become insolvent or have maximised subsidy allowances).

Application process

Businesses must use the online application form to apply for ARG3. The online grant application cannot be saved therefore evidence and information to support the application must be uploaded at the same time the application form is completed in one session. 

Applicants are advised to read the ‘Checklist for Applicants’ further below on this page and gather information and evidence in advance of completing the online form.

The online application form portal can be accessed using Chrome or Edge browsers, we do not recommend using mobile phones or the Safari browser which may be incompatible. Incomplete applications will be rejected.

To comply with government guidance, applicants must provide Wirral Council with the following information: 

a.  Name of business
b.  Business Trading Address including postcode
c.  Unique identifier (preferably Company Reference Number (CRN)) if applicable. If not applicable, VAT Registration Number, Self-Assessment/Partnership Number, National Insurance Number, Unique Taxpayer Reference, Registered Charity Number will also be acceptable)
d.  High level SIC Code (business sector)
e.  Nature of Business
f.  Date business established
g.  Number of employees
h. Business rates account number (where applicable)

Managing the risk of fraud

Wirral Council will not accept deliberate manipulation and fraud. Any business caught falsifying their records to gain additional grant money will face prosecution and any funding issued will be recovered, as may any grants that have been paid in error. 

Any suspected attempt at supplying false or inaccurate information will be recorded and acted upon. Further information is included in our Privacy Notice and Terms and Conditions.

For the avoidance of doubt, Wirral Council is required to undertake pre-payment and post-payment due diligence checks to inform grant-making decisions. To assist in the due-diligence process and in performing eligibility checks for the grants, applicants must provide the information requested, including evidence of trade, for example bank statements, signed lease agreement or mortgage statement, utility bill, recent invoice, business or professional indemnity insurance certificate. Wirral Council will retain all evidence supplied by applicants for a period of ten years as required by government.

Due-diligence checks are undertaken before any payments are issued to businesses. Digital tools such as Spotlight, Companies House, and the National Fraud Initiative will also be used. The Bank Account Verification Tool is used as part of the Government’s Counter Fraud function, which works in partnership with Experian. This allows Local Authorities to:

a. Verify the bank accounts of companies in receipt of these business grants; and
b. Provide insight into whether the company was trading at the relevant date for these grants.

This tool will be used for registered companies and unregistered companies such as sole traders.

Will grants be subject to tax?

Grant income received by a business is taxable. The Additional Restrictions Grant will need to be included as income in the tax return of the business. Only businesses which make an overall profit once grant income is included will be subject to tax. Payments made to businesses before 5 April 2022 will fall into the 2021/22 tax year. Unincorporated businesses will be taxed when they receive the grant income.

Read further guidance from HMRC on reporting COVID-19 grant income

Subsidy allowances

This scheme is covered by three possible subsidy allowances:

  1. Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance – you’re allowed up to approximately £335,000 (subject to exchange rates) in Small Amounts of Financial Assistance over any rolling period of 3 fiscal years
  2. COVID-19 Business Grant Allowance – under this allowance you’re allowed up to £1,900,000 across all COVID-19 Business Grant schemes, provided certain conditions are met.
  3. COVID-19 Business Grant Special Allowance - if you have reached your limits under the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance and COVID-19 Business Grant Allowance, you may be able to access a further allowance of funding under these scheme rules of up to £10,000,000 across all COVID-19 Business Grant schemes, provided certain conditions are met.

Grants under these three allowances can be combined for a potential total allowance of up to £12,235,000 (subject to exchange rates).

If your business could be subject to the Northern Ireland Protocol, these Allowances may vary under the State aid rules.

Grants provided in excess of the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance are subject to additional conditions. Please contact us if you are in receipt of subsidy in excess of approximately £335,000 (subject to exchange rates) over any rolling period of 3 fiscal years.

You must answer the question(s) relating to subsidy allowance when completing the online application form for this scheme.

Right to update this guidance

The council reserves the right to update and change this document or any operational policies that affect ARG3 without notification or warning in the event that the government updates or changes its guidance to us or in the event of an error or omission.

Appeals

This grant scheme is not intended to cover all businesses that have been impacted by the Omicron variant. There is no right to appeal, and the decision of the council is final. The council’s interpretation of this document is at its own discretion, and it will be the final arbiter of the definitions contained within this document.

Apply

Applications for the grant have now closed.

Checklist for Applicants:

All businesses needed the following information and documents ready before applying:

  • copies of your full business bank account statements covering ALL three months of October, November, and December 2021, and clearly show the name of the bank account holder, business address, sort code and account number, and all business transactions. These details must match the name of the business, or individual listed on the business rates bill, lease, mortgage agreement, utility bill, insurance certificate (we can only accept a PDF copy of an online bank statement, or a clear photograph of a paper copy. Screenshots are not acceptable)
  • registered Company, Registered Charity, other registered number (if applicable)
  • VAT registration number (if applicable)
  • Unique Taxpayer Reference (10 digits) and National Insurance number (if self-employed)
  • Partnership or Self-Assessment number (if partnership)
  • a statement explaining how your business has been impacted by the Omicron variant

In addition:

Businesses occupying commercial premises needed to provide all the following documents:

  • signed and current commercial lease or mortgage statement or mortgage deed
  • Business Rates Reference Number and a copy of your latest bill for April 2021 to March 2022 (only applicable if your business premises are in the business rates system)
  • utility bill (gas, electricity, water, broadband or landline telephone – mobile phone bills are not acceptable) which must be dated within the last 3 months and matches the business name and address shown on your lease, mortgage, business rates bill. (We can only accept a PDF copy of a utility bill, or a clear photograph of a paper copy. Screenshots are not acceptable)

Home-based businesses needed to provide all the following documents:

  • utility bill (gas, electricity, water, broadband or landline telephone – mobile phone bills are not acceptable) which must be dated within the last 3 months and match the name of the business or applicant and the home address where you run your business from. (We can only accept a PDF copy of a utility bill, or a clear photograph of a paper copy. Screenshots are not acceptable).
  • sales invoice generated by your business for December 2021
  • a current business-related insurance certificate in the name of the business or sole trader, for example, public liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance, employer liability insurance

Please ensure you have read the accompanying Terms and Conditions and Privacy Notice for this scheme. PDF versions of Terms and Conditions and Privacy Notice are also available to view on the webpages below: