New support fund for Sunderland organisations

02 June 2020

A £2.4M boost for Sunderland businesses and charities that have been unable to tap into existing Government COVID-19 support packages is set to be made available this week [from Monday, June 1].

The Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund, which was announced by Government earlier in May, is now open for applications to Sunderland businesses and registered charities. 

The Government released its initial guidance for the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund - as well as confirming Sunderland’s allocation of £2.412m – during May.  Although there is a discretionary element to the scheme, local authorities are expected to follow guidance set out by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which includes a number of mandatory requirements, together with a range of criteria and businesses which local authorities are asked to prioritise for support.  Full details of how the scheme will be delivered in Sunderland are at

In Sunderland, the Discretionary Fund will - in the first instance - be targeted exclusively towards four categories which the Government has asked local authorities to prioritise.  These categories are:

  • small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces, which do not have their own business rates assessment;
  • market traders with fixed property-related costs, such as rent;
  • Bed & Breakfasts which pay Council Tax instead of business rates; and
  • charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief, which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.

Businesses and charities in these categories across Sunderland, who are struggling to survive due to the Coronavirus shutdown but have been unable to access other COVID-19 grant funding, can make an application to Sunderland City Council for support under the Discretionary Fund.  Those who meet the eligibility criteria will be able to access a grant of up to £10,000.

The fund aims to plug the gaps left by the Government’s Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Fund, which saw some businesses and charities miss out on vital support due to strict criteria. 

Peter McIntyre, executive director of city development at Sunderland City Council, said: “The launch of this fund will be welcome news for some of the businesses and charities that were unable to access the first round of business support launched by Government in March. 

“It’s been a challenging time for many Sunderland businesses and charities, and we are pleased to be able to explore other ways of supporting those that have got by without funding so far.”

Mr McIntyre added: “There is a limited pot of money available, and a limited window in which businesses and charities must apply, so we would urge those who think they may be eligible to read the criteria and get their online application submitted as soon as they can.  This will give us the potential to develop criteria for a second phase of the Local Authority Discretionary Fund targeting key sectors for the local economy if funds remain available.”

Businesses and charities can apply online at by filling in a form that will prompt applicants for all of the information required.  All applicants must demonstrate loss of income related to COVID-19 as part of the application process.

Small and micro businesses that do not meet the criteria for the fund – and which have been unable to get support from the Government’s other grants - are also being invited to provide information to Sunderland City Council about the impact that the COVID-19 crisis has had.  The council will use this to understand other ways it can support organisations as they work to recover from the pandemic.  Businesses are asked to complete a short online form.

To find out more about the Discretionary Fund scheme in Sunderland and full details of eligibility criteria visit

The online form can be found at

Further information on the government’s support for business linked to Covid-19 can be found on the Council’s dedicated web pages for businesses and employers at