Please read all sections of the guidance below before filling in an application form.
Worcester City Council has launched an Empty Retail Units Grant as part of the Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan. The scheme will contribute towards the costs of short-term or “meanwhile” use of empty retail units in Worcester City. This aims to encourage the longer-term occupation of vacant retail premises, helping boost footfall, stimulate entrepreneurship, create new jobs and enhance the sustainability of businesses.
Overview of the scheme
When the government announced lockdown measures in March 2020, it had an immediate effect on city businesses, particularly as it occurred so soon after the serious flood event of February/March. Footfall in the city centre dropped by 90% and almost all businesses were forced to shut their doors. Despite a package of support funding, the impact on the city’s economy, infrastructure and communities has been enormous.
A number of retail units have become empty in the intervening months, some as a direct result of the impact of Covid-19 and some for other reasons, including as a result of the ongoing evolution of consumer spending habits. The Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan identifies that these empty retail units may be re-occupied on a short-term basis to stimulate the economy and encourage footfall to the area.
Businesses or organisations located within Worcester City can apply for a grant of up to £2,500 to be utilised to enable the temporary occupation of a previously empty retail unit in Worcester City. Only one grant is available per retail unit in any six-month period.
Amount of Grant and Eligible Expenditure
Businesses can apply for a grant of up to £2,500.
Eligible expenditure can include equipment, machinery, building works, fixtures and fittings, electrical appliances, and other similar one-off items to help occupy the currently vacant unit. It can also cover marketing and promotion costs for the project.
The grant may not be used for:
- Recurring revenue costs (including salaries, stock, rent, utility charges, subscriptions, etc)
- Repaying existing loans or debts
- Items subject to hire/lease agreements
- Activities that may bring Worcester City Council into disrepute
Availability of Grant
All grants are made at the discretion of Worcester City Council subject to availability of funding.
Grants will be limited to one per empty retail unit, per project, or in any six-month period.
Criteria for eligibility
- The business or organisation making the application must be located within Worcester City (this must be the address from which the business operates, not simply the registered address).
- The premises to be occupied must be based in Worcester City.
- Only one grant per empty retail unit will be awarded in any six-month period
- The applicant must hold a business bank account in the name of the business or organisation (a ‘trading as’ account is acceptable).
- The applicant must have all the necessary permissions and licenses to occupy the currently vacant unit (these include planning permission for change of use of premises, advertising consent, licencing, etc.) A check may be carried out to confirm this.
- The applicant must give consent for Worcester City Council to involve the business in publicity, e.g. press releases and photographs.
- The applicant must agree to take part in any monitoring and produce relevant information as requested after the grant is paid.
- The applicant must not have any other outstanding debts payable to Worcester City Council (checks will be made).
To apply you will need
- A completed application form
- Evidence that:
- You are the landlord or have written consent from the landlord of the empty retail unit
- You have any required permissions including planning permission
- Details of your proposals for the property and plans for the initiative and why they are suitable for the building/area
- Recent photos of the property showing its condition
- Photographic I.D.
Assessing the application
The grant application will be considered by a Business Grant Panel who will decide to make one of three decisions:
- Offer a grant
- Request further information from the applicant
- Reject the application
Each application will be judged on its own merits regarding how well it meets the scheme’s aims and eligibility criteria and its ability to be implemented. Worcester City Council will not enter into a commitment until the formal acceptance of the offer of the grant (this will be subject to the terms and conditions of the scheme).
Decision on application
All decisions of Worcester City Council are final. Notification of decision on the application will be made in writing to the applicant. An offer of grant will be made by an offer of grant letter (sent by email). This must be accepted within 21 days of receipt of the offer letter by returning a copy of the offer of grant letter signed by the applicant. After this date the offer will be automatically withdrawn and the applicant will then have to re-apply if they still wish to proceed after this date.
The grant-aided works
- No grant-aided work is to be carried out other than in accordance with the agreed project outlined in the application and as agreed in the offer letter.
- Worcester City Council must be notified immediately of any variations needed to the agreed offer and before any variation to the application takes place.
- Variations to the agreement must be approved in writing prior to such work commencing. Worcester City Council reserves the right to refuse the grant for changes to the specification which it deems not appropriate for the scheme.
- Approved schemes must be completed by the date specified in the offer letter unless agreed otherwise by Worcester City Council. The applicant must inform Worcester City Council immediately if the deadline cannot be met. Worcester City Council will then consider the most appropriate action but is under no obligation to alter the conditions in the original offer letter and therefore no obligation to offer assistance for a project which has not started by the original deadline date.
Payment of grant
- Grants are discretionary and Worcester City Council reserves the right to withhold payment of the grant in whole or part if any condition of the offer letter has been breached.
- The applicant must inform Worcester City Council upon completion of the works.
- Payment will be subject to the applicant having satisfactorily completed the project and complied with all terms and conditions of the scheme.
- If the actual costs are less than those outlined in the application and agreed in the offer letter, payment will be calculated on the actual amount in accordance with the receipted invoices.
- If the costs of the proposed project exceed the amount stated in the application, Worcester City Council is not obliged to increase the grant amount.
- Payment of the grant will be made into the applicant’s business bank account (or ‘trading as’ account) via BACS.
A check will be made to ascertain whether the applicant has any outstanding debts owed to Worcester City Council, such as Council Tax. If it is found that such debts exist, Worcester City Council reserves the right to withhold grant payment until such debts are cleared
Worcester City Council liability
Award of the grant does not imply that Worcester City Council is expressing a view regarding the business or its products/services nor that it accepts responsibility for any debts, or liabilities incurred by the applicant or the business.
Repayment of grant
Worcester City Council reserves the right to recover all or part of the grant it has provided if the information provided in the application form or other correspondence is found to be substantially incorrect, misleading or incomplete.
Please note: The Local Government Transparency Code requires Local Government to publish the payments that they make. As part of our commitment to providing financial transparency, Worcester City Council will publish individual payments with a value of £250 and over on our website. Please state the name you wish to appear on the council website (e.g. your trading name; your name; or “small business owner”
Download application form