FINANCIAL grants set to help small businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis are 'nowhere near enough', South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils revealed.

The latest lockdown aid was branded 'insufficient' for the vast majority of traders and local authorities are currently assessing how many of them meet the eligibility criteria.

Nationally, the government is only providing an extra five per cent of funding on top of the money received in the first round of coronavirus business grants in April.

Councillor Leigh Rawlins, cabinet member for finance at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: "We now have the challenge of trying to spread this money to as many businesses as possible while ensuring they also receive a meaningful amount that will make any kind of a difference.

"The simple matter is, however, there is not enough money to do that."

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Business owners eligible for the money should expect funds by early June in line with the government's official guidance.

Local authorities in Oxfordshire are now setting up the online application process using the detailed criteria.

The two councils warned it might take until the end of May before businesses in South and Vale can begin registration.

However, taking a bit of time now to set it up now will ensure the process is quicker and easier to complete, meaning the councils can pay the funds to successful applicants without delays.

The government has asked authorities to prioritise the following types of businesses for grants from the emergency funding pot but to also exercise local knowledge when determining who needs the support:

•Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces. Examples could include units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment.

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•Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent that do not have their own business rates assessment.

•Bed and Breakfasts, which pay council tax instead of business rates; and

•Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rate relief, which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.

Companies that have already received cash grants from any central government Covid-19 related scheme are ineligible for funding from the Discretionary Grants Fund.

However, those who have applied for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme are still eligible for this one.

Vale of White Horse councillor Andrew Crawford added: "We will do everything we can to provide guidance and advice to businesses that are not successful and to point them to other sources of funding."