Business Ventilation Fund: evaluation
Assesses the outputs and indicative outcomes of the Business Ventilation Fund with the aim of improving ventilation in business premises and reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Introduction and Background
The purpose of this evaluation report is to understand the outputs of the COVID-19 Business Ventilation Fund (BVF), in terms of numbers of businesses supported, and early outcomes, in terms of the extent to which the fund enabled businesses to improve their ventilation to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and therefore support their sustained reopening. It also seeks to understand businesses' perceptions of the processing of the fund in order to learn lessons for future business support measures.
Following the easing of COVID-related trading restrictions in mid-2021, the Scottish Government (SG) introduced the Business Ventilation Fund (BVF) in September 2021 to support small and medium-sized businesses to improve ventilation to help reduce transmission of the virus, thereby supporting the sustained opening of society and contributing to Scotland's wider COVID recovery. This followed recommendations from an expert advisory group, chaired by Professor Tim Sharpe from the University of Strathclyde.
The expert advisory group recommended that a £25 million fund was initially targeted at businesses operating in high risk settings where people come into close contact such as restaurants, bars and gyms. However, the eligibility was extended on 4 February 2022 to include medium and low-risk settings, such as essential retail, art galleries and museums.
Businesses were invited to undertake a self-assessment of the ventilation within their premises to identify if any improvements could be made and what costs may be claimed back through this fund. Eligible businesses could claim up to £2,500 per premise to cover improvements such as purchasing and installing CO2 monitors and vents or servicing and repairing windows.
The fund was administered by the Scottish Government and local authorities and opened to applications from 23 November 2021 to 11 March 2022. Any works or purchases had to be made by 31 March 2022. Claims could be submitted until 15 April 2022.
To successfully apply to the BVF, applicants were required to be actively trading in an eligible sector, be the main occupier of a physical premises and be responsible for paying non-domestic rates with a rateable value of under £51,000. Applicants with a rateable value of over £51,000 were able to apply if they had an annual turnover of no more than £43m and no more than 250 employees. For a claim to be successful, applicants were required to provide evidence of bank statements, an invoice for the improvement works and have proof of payment for the works.
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