BIG scheme guidance notes

This guidance note is provided to help you understand the aims of the County District Centre (CDC) Business Improvement Grant (BIG) scheme and how you can make an application.


Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCR CA) has allocated each Local Authority (LA) up to £1m to target a Town Centre or in Liverpool’s case a District Centre. This initiative is targeted at addressing the need for many of our town/district centres, to find a new purpose and to play a significantly different role for their local communities.

The pandemic has had, and will continue to have, a profound impact on town centres and the high street in general. It has accelerated some of the changes already underway including forcing consumers to change their shopping habits.

As the UK High Street reopens it will be a challenging time for all businesses.

About the grant 

Between October 2021 and April 2022, we will be delivering a series of County Catalyst Projects in line with the Vision to create an environment around the high street that encourages new enterprises, supports local business growth, improves the health and wellbeing of the local community, increases employability of local residents and creates more cohesive, sustainable communities.

The total allocation of funding for BIG is £100,000.00.

Businesses can apply for a grant of up to a minimum of £500.00 and maximum of £3,000.00. The grant will cover 100% of the total cost of an agreed project,  to a maximum value of £3,000.00.

BIG will be advertised initially for a two-week period. Following the two-week advertisement, the BIG scheme will then open for applications. BIG will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, allocated in order of receipt of a complete and evidenced application until the available grant is exhausted. Once the full allocation of £100,000 has been distributed, the application process will close. This is a one-off grant payment, and no further funding will be allocated from this scheme once the funds are exhausted.

Please note that grant support is discretionary and subject to availability of funds. The inclusion of the property within the eligible area does not give any automatic entitlement to support. Liverpool City Council (the council) reserve the right to amend or withdraw BIG at any time. There is no automatic entitlement to BIG. Each application will be considered in accordance with this guidance.

What can I use the grant for?

This grant scheme is for businesses located within a defined boundary of County District Centre, to provide financial support in facing the challenges that are currently affecting the high street.  The grant is intended for projects that will improve the operation of the business and contribute towards the improvement of the District Centre, and you will be asked how your project will do this.  You can use the grant to pay for:

  • Specialist 1-2-1 advice. Such as accountancy, financial, legal, health and safety, ICT support etc.
  • Purchase of minor equipment to support your business.
  • Internal alterations to the property which do not require planning permission or building consent.

You will need to get a quote from at least three different suppliers, and submit these, with the cheapest quote being selected for the project.  The quotes, if dated, must be dated within the seven days before your application is submitted.

Who can apply?

  • Businesses that operate from commercial premises.
  • A Small or Micro Business.

Under the Companies Act 2006, a Small Business must satisfy two or more of the following requirements in a year:

- Turnover: Not more than £10.2 million

- Balance sheet total: Not more than £5.1 million

- Number of employees: a staff headcount of not more than 50

Under the Companies Act 2006, a Micro Business must satisfy two or more of the following requirements:

- Turnover: Not more than £632,000
- Balance sheet total: Not more than £316,000
- Number of employees: a staff headcount of not more than 10

BIG will prioritise small and micro independent businesses, with preference being given to those businesses or brands with less than five locations in the UK.


BIG is a fund for registered County District Centre independent businesses and sole traders/self-employed, within the defined area of County District Centre (see plan). To be eligible the business must:

  • have ongoing commercial property related costs.
  • be based within the area of the CDC Liverpool as defined on the plan, and have been trading on or before 1st June 2021.
  • be Subsidy Control compliant (formerly State Aid).
  • employ 1 or more people (a sole director, or self-employed counts as 1 staff member).
  • still be trading i.e. continuing to trade with a view to making a profit or surplus. A business is excluded if it is:

- dissolved or about to be dissolved
- a dormant company
- insolvent or if insolvency action had been instigated against it

  • provide a Unique Taxpayer Reference (for sole trader/self-employed) or company registration number, i.e. Companies House Number.
  • submit a letter from a registered/chartered Accountant which confirms the Business to be operational and not insolvent, and either a small or micro business.

A business can only receive one grant from this scheme.

List of conditions

All grant offers will be made in writing. Full details of the conditions that apply to the grant will be set out in a Grant Offer letter.

Any applications for works that may need planning permission, building control notice and advertisement consent will not be considered for this scheme. The grants are discretionary and subject to the availability of funds. The Council reserve the right to amend or withdraw entitlement to a grant. Each application will be considered on its own merits and in accordance with this guidance.

The scheme will not support works that have already been undertaken or for goods/services received. The grant will not apply to any works, goods or services which are started/received prior to a formal offer of grant funding having been made.

Contractors undertaking Capital Works must have Public Liability Insurance.

The council reserves the right to refuse or withdraw a grant offer if it is not satisfied with any changes made to the project.

When will the grant be paid?

The grant will be paid to the applicant after the project has been completed.  Successful applicants will receive a Grant Offer Letter, setting out the terms of the grant.  The applicant will be asked to agree the terms of the grant, and once agreed, the project can begin and complete.  The grant will be paid to the applicant’s bank account after completion of the project.

The aim is that the funding will reach applicants within 30 working days following receival of a receipt or invoice for works, goods or services being provided and completion of the project.

Payment will be subject to the applicant having complied with all the terms and conditions of the grant offer.


Applicants who are VAT registered will have their grant assessed on the net cost of eligible works, non-registered applicants on the gross cost.

Breach of conditions

If an applicant fails to meet any conditions, the Council reserves the right to declare the grant offer void or vary the amount to be paid. If the grant has been paid, the Council may require it to be paid back in full or in part.

If you are successful

If successful, you will receive a Grant Offer Letter. This will provide you with the value of the grant awarded, along with details of how you can claim the grant and the Terms and Conditions.

The Grant Offer Letter will need to be returned to the council.

When you are fully satisfied with the completed work or have received the equipment and have made your final payment to your supplier, you will need to submit claim evidence to the Council.  This will be in the form of

  • a copy of the invoice from your supplier,
  • copy of your business bank statement(s) showing payment to your supplier leaving your bank account
  • and an invoice to the Council for the grant amount.

Projects will be subject to an agreed completion date, set out in the Grant Offer Letter.

The latest date for the issue of grants following completion of projects is 16 February 2022.  No grants will be issued after this date.