compiled by Lesley Harrison
updated 19 January 2021
Financial and Business Support During Covid-19
Gym owners and self-employed instructors may be eligible for some support from the government as we head into another national lockdown. Support is limited and there are some gym owners who “fall through the cracks” due to the legal structure of their business or the nature of their premises.
Those who are not eligible for the support listed here may still wish to contact their local council to ask about discretionary funding.
Support for Self-Employed Instructors
The Self Employed Income Support Scheme is available across the whole of the United Kingdom and has been extended until March. This scheme provides a taxable grant, with the amount of the grant calculated based on the individuals declared trading profits over the previous three tax years.
Individuals who were eligible for the first two rounds of the grant can claim for the third if they can demonstrate that their business has been impacted by the coronavirus, for example by forced closures, or by loss of income due to limited class sizes.
When round 3 of the grant was initially announced, it was set to be just 20% of previous profits. Round 3’s payments have been increased to 80% of previous profits. Uptake of the grant has been far lower than expected, because this increase has not been heavily advertised.
If you are eligible for the grant, and have not yet claimed, consider doing so. The grant is taxable, and you should keep evidence to support the claim, but making a claim is a simple process and most people receive funds within 1-2 weeks.
Support for Gyms Registered for Business Rates
If your facility is located in a part of England that spent a significant amount of time in Tier 2 or Tier 3 restrictions between August 1st and November 5th 2020, and you were forced to close or operate at reduced capacity due to those restrictions, you may be eligible for the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG).
This grant is administered by local councils, and provides a cash payment for each 14-day period that the area was under local restrictions. This grant is still open, but funds are limited so it would be wise to claim soon.
To support businesses in England impacted by the new national lockdown, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced new round of grant payments worth up to £9,000. This grant is based on the ratable value of the property used by the business. Those based in properties with a low ratable value will most likely receive £4,000. The
For more information about these grants, check your local council website.
The ERF Restrictions Business Fund is open to businesses in the leisure sector that are registered for non-domestic rates, including those that are in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR). Grants start at £3,000 for businesses that receive SBRR, and increase to £5,000 for businesses with properties that have a ratable value of £12,001 or more.
Businesses in Scotland may qualify for a grant of £2,000 for every four week period that their business is forced to close, via the Strategic Framework Business Fund.
If you were able to open your gym, but with heavy modifications: for example offering training only for kid’s classes or under the Elite Program, then you may be able to claim under the Business Restrictions Grant, which offers grants of £1,400 per month for the period of the restrictions.
To be eligible for these grants, the business must be registered for non-domestic rates (either directly or through a landlord), and you must have a business bank account.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu facilities may be able to claim for support under the Localized Restrictions Support Scheme on the basis that they were required to close, or had business activities directly curtailed by the Health Protection Regulations. Payments start at £800 per week of restrictions, depending on the Total Net Annual Value (NAV) of the property.
Support for Gyms Not Registered for Business Rates
Most of the grants available are aimed at businesses that are registered for business rates. Councils have received some funding that can be issued on a discretionary basis. This funding falls under the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG).
Instructors who rent space in a shared community hall, or who share space with other instructors and are therefore not named on a business rates bill may be able to claim under the ARG.
Most councils will ask to see proof of the shared tenancy/rental and bank statements showing a change in income during the period of restrictions.
For more information about these grants, check your local council website.
Local authorities in Wales have been provided with funds to issue Lockdown Discretionary Grants for businesses that are not registered for Non-Domestic Rates. Grants of up to £2,000 per business are available.
In addition to the Strategic Framework Business Fund, gyms in Scotland that were forced to close due to Level 4 restrictions may be abl to claim a grant of up to £3,000. Contact your local council for more information.
Businesses that share a property may still be able to claim the lower rate of the grant offered under the Local Restrictions Support Scheme.[a]
Other Grants and Support
Support from non-government sources is limited at this time. It would not be practical for us to list all small grant-making organizations across the United Kingdom, especially since eligibility requirements vary significantly, and most Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gyms do not have a governance structure that is suited to grant-funding.
There are some major grants available from the National Lottery and Sport England, however. Awards for All runs in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and supports community organizations with small grants of £300 to £10,000. Applications must come from a group, club, charity or Community Interest Company. Sole traders and limited companies are not eligible.
Sport England currently offers the Return to Play: Small Grants fund. Under normal circumstances, Sport England has very strict governance and sustainability criteria. These have been relaxed somewhat for the duration of the COVID-19 situation, so it is worth applying even if you have been denied Sport England funding in the past. Sport England have confirmed that BJJ clubs can apply, and the programme has been extended to 30 June 2021.
Bounce Back Loans
The Bounce Back Loan scheme has been extended until the 31 March 2021.
Unlike other schemes, this is a loan that must be repaid, however, the loan is interest-free for the first year and is backed by the government. This means banks are willing to consider borrowers who would not otherwise be eligible.
Several banks are now offering Bounce Back Loans, although not all lenders are open to new customers. If you do not currently have a business bank account or your bank is not participating in the scheme, it’s best to approach your current account provider first of all, since they are more likely to be willing to open a new account for you before the January 31st deadline.
Rent Arrears and The Coronavirus Act 2020
The Coronavirus Act 2020 has been extended until the end of March 2021. One of the provisions in this act is that commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent are protected from eviction.
Note this does not mean tenants have a rent holiday. Any rent due will still need to be paid. However, gym owners who were up to date with their rent prior to the pandemic and whose tenancies were otherwise in good standing cannot be evicted solely on the basis of rent arrears during the pandemic.
If you are struggling to pay rent for your facility at this time, speak to the landlord and work with them to come to an agreement to clear the arrears once restrictions are lifted or once one of the above grants has been received.
Rent arrears are a serious issue and should not be ignored. If you are unable to come to an agreement with your landlord, or are otherwise concerned about your business’ cash flow during the pandemic, seek expert advice.
Free advice is available from:
- LEP Growth Hubs in England
- FindBusinessSupport in Scotland
- BusinessWales in Wales
- NIBusiness Info in Northern Ireland