EXTRA funding has been announced to help small businesses which were previously unable to access an emergency coronavirus government grant scheme.

The Business Secretary Alok Sharma and Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke told local authorities in England that up to £617 million would be made available.

This is in addition to the £12.33 billion funding previously announced for the Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund.

The Government said it would confirm the exact amount for each local authority this week.

"This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs," said a spokesman.

"We are asking local authorities to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates.

"But local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need. The allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities."

Businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and able to demonstrate a significant drop of income due to Coronavirus restriction measures.

There will be three levels of grant payments. The maximum will be £25,000. There will also be grants of £10,000.

Local authorities will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. It will be for councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances.

British Chambers of Commerce director general Dr Adam Marshall welcomed the discretionary fund for small businesses that have previously been outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme.

“We have been calling for additional support for businesses and entrepreneurs who have fallen between the cracks, so it is welcome to see additional funding allocated to support some of these hard-pressed firms.

“Clarity and speed are of the essence. Many of the companies that have been unable to use existing support schemes are already on borrowed time – and will need these grants paid out swiftly if they are to survive.”