And councils have been told to release the funding to business owners “as soon as possible” to help boost the economy.
From today (Thursday) eligible business will be able to receive up to £18,000 as part of the Government’s £5 billion Restart Grants scheme.
In a letter, local authorities have been told by Government ministers to “press on” after a warning that it had taken too long for previous funds to be released.
The new funding will allow non-essential retail business in England to access one-off grants of up to £6,000, while businesses in the hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym sectors will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £18,000.
The letter, signed by Small Business minister Paul Scully and Tourism minister Nigel Huddleston, also urged councils to be “as flexible as possible” in enabling pubs, cafes and restaurants to open outdoor seating areas and host outdoor events in a “Covid-secure manner”.
Mr Scully said: “Government grants have been critical in relieving cash flow pressures and enabling businesses to plan ahead and I am urging councils to deliver these vital funds to where they are needed as soon as possible.
“We have made extraordinary efforts to stand by small business owners. Now we need to press on and continue getting money to them in good time to ensure that our communities are ready to build back better following the pandemic.”
Tourism minister Nigel Huddleston called on local authorities to work “at pace” to distribute the grants.
He said: “Small businesses are the backbone of our tourism sector and a major part of what makes the UK a world-class destination.
“These vital funds will make a huge difference to businesses in our brilliant hospitality, accommodation and leisure sectors as we build back better from the pandemic.
“I urge councils to work at pace to distribute these grants and look forward to seeing their impact in communities across the country.”
Mike Cherry, national chairman at the Lancashire-headquartered Federation of Small Businesses, outlined the frustration at the speed of funding allocation.
“During this crisis billions of pounds worth of grants have been made available to businesses that desperately need it, yet, frustratingly, so much of it is still yet to be allocated,” said Mr Cherry.
“It’s good that the Government is making it clear to local authorities that ARG grants are genuinely discretionary and that the priority is to get this support delivered."
Babs Murphy, Chief Executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said: “We are pleased that the Chancellor has listened to our call for additional support for firms that have been hardest hit.
"The Restart Fund is a positive step which can help support the cash flow of some of those worst affected by lockdown, proving much needed headroom to navigate a difficult few months ahead.
“Local authorities must also do their bit by ensuring that this support gets to businesses quickly and without any unnecessary delays.”
A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: “Councils continue to lead local efforts to support communities and businesses through the pandemic.
“This includes distributing billions to small businesses through previous grant schemes last year.
“These government grants have been a lifeline to small businesses worried about the future.
“Councils have had to come to terms with a rapidly changing landscape and guidance, with different grants applying to different time periods and lockdowns, but are working fast to ensure businesses can receive funding as quickly as possible.”