demand for grants has outstripped the funding pot by millions.

The Discretionary Grant Fund is one of several financial packages introduced by the Government to support small businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The grants specifically support small and micro businesses that are not eligible for other grant schemes.

Brighton and Hove was allocated £3.7 million to support its small independent businesses.

Applications had to be submitted by June 12.

By the midnight deadline, 916 bids to a value of £10,787,500 had been made through the council’s online portal.

Council leader Nancy Platts said: “The pandemic has had a huge impact on small businesses and the people who work in our independent business sector.

“They are an essential part of what makes Brighton and Hove a vibrant, creative place and we need to make sure they can recover.

“We recognised early on that many of our small independent businesses were falling through the cracks and wrote to Government asking for local discretion to support the businesses we knew were crying out for help.

“The discretionary fund was a welcome step but has unfortunately fallen far short of being adequate.

“The total pot we have for the grants is £3.7 million.

Two hundred and four bids for a slice of the cash were for £25,000, 521 were for £10,000 and 191 were for £2,500, which makes a total shortfall of £7 million.

Councillor Platts said: “Clearly this is not good enough and leaves many businesses on the brink of closure.

“This cannot be right, and we are urging Government to think again.

“I am asking the Government to make all the remaining small business grant fund available to spend on discretionary grants so that we can help more businesses survive the public health crisis and rebuild a thriving local economy.

“These small independents are the lifeblood of our city and its communities. People have put their heart and soul into setting up their businesses and keeping them going.

“We cannot stand by and watch them go under.’’

The criteria and application process for the discretionary grants fund for small businesses was agreed by the city council’s policy and resources sub-committee on May 29.

The council said the criteria was designed to capture small businesses that make a significant contribution to the city’s economy.

These include the visitor economy, retail, events, creative and digital, as well as charities and not-for-profit organisations.

Applicants should have been notified about the outcome of their grant application by yesterday.

Businesses do not have to pay the grant back, but it is taxable. Only businesses which make an overall profit once grant income is included will be subject to tax.

More information about the Government’s discretionary grant funding can be found at

You may be eligible if your business:

Is based in England

Has relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs

Occupies property (or part of a property) with a rateable value or annual mortgage/rent payments below £51,000

Was trading on March 11

You will need to show your business has suffered a significant fall in income due to coronavirus. The Government has asked local councils to prioritise businesses such as:

Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces, such as units in industrial parks or incubators

Regular market traders

Bed and breakfasts paying council tax instead of business rates

Charity properties getting charitable business rates relief, which are not eligible for small business rates relief or rural rate relief.