There are three different levels of subsidy any single economic entity can receive over a rolling 3-year period:

  • Up to £332,160*
  • Up to a further £1.6million
  • Up to £9 million if you meet 6 tests

The Cultural Recovery Grants will be treated as a subsidy if you are a commercial for-profit organisation. If this applies to you, on the recent email from Arts Council England, we believe you should click through to the online form and on the second page select Yes – The award meets all the criteria to be a subsidy. The Arts Council will then contact you again to make sure your total subsidy fits into the above framework, in which case there should be no need to claw back your grant funding. Further explanation of these criteria can be found below. If you have any specific questions, you should contact [email protected]

Our current understanding of the domestic subsidy regime that came into being from 4th March 2021 are that the Cultural Recovery Fund grants will qualify as a subsidy if they are being received by a commercial organisation, because the following four tests are met:

A subsidy must constitute a financial (or in kind) contribution such as a grant, loan or guarantee.
The financial contribution must be provided by a ‘public authority’, including, but not limited to, central, devolved, regional or local government.

The award of the subsidy must also confer a benefit on the recipient in the sense of an economic advantage that is not available on market terms.

Finally, the subsidy must cause a distortion in or harm to competition, trade or investment.


Your total subsidy will include any grants you have received from the public sector be they from central, regional, devolved, or local government. You must also include any government backed lending so CBILS and Bounce Back Loans will quality as they benefit from a government guarantee.

Rates relief does NOT need to be included in the total, and neither does any benefit from the Job Retention Scheme as this has been deemed by the government not to count as a subsidy.


The rules changed from 4th March 2021 as the UK replaced the previous EU State Aid rules.

Prior to 4th March: You could receive total subsidy equivalent to EUR 200,000 over three years (under the De Minimis Regulation), or EUR 800,000 under the COVID-19 Temporary Framework.

Post 4th March: There are three different levels of subsidy you are permitted to receive are as follows;

Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance – This allowance is the equivalent of 325,000 Special Drawing Rights, to a single economic actor over any period of three fiscal years and includes any subsidy previously received as ‘de minimis’ aid or as Small Amounts of Financial Assistance. As at 27th May 2021 this was the equivalent of £332,160*.

You can check an up-to-date figure using the Special Drawing Right calculator COVID-19 Business Grant Allowance – if limits are reached under the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance, grants may be paid under the COVID-19 Business Grant Allowance (subsidies granted on a temporary basis to respond to a national or global economic emergency). For the purposes of these scheme rules, this allowance is £1,600,000 per single economic actor. This allowance includes any grants and state aid previously received.

At the time of writing the two above allowances mean that total assistance of £1,932,160 is permitted. If both of the above limits are reached then a third option comes into play.

COVID-19 Business Grant Special Allowance – up to £9,000,000 per single economic actor if a series of further conditions are met:

The Special Allowance covers only the applicant’s uncovered fixed costs incurred during the period between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2022, including such costs incurred in any part of that period (‘eligible period’);

Applicants must demonstrate a decline in turnover during the eligible period of at least 30% compared to the same period in 2019. The calculation of losses will be based on audited accounts or official statutory accounts filed at Companies House, or approved accounts submitted to HMRC which includes information on the applicant’s profit and loss;

‘Uncovered fixed costs’ means fixed costs not otherwise covered by profit, insurance or other subsidies;

The grant payment must not exceed 70% of the applicant’s uncovered fixed costs, except for micro and small enterprises (for the purposes of this scheme defined as less than 50 employees and less than £9,000,000 of annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet), where the grant payment must not exceed 90% of the uncovered fixed costs; 19.

Grant payments under this allowance must not exceed £9,000,000 per single economic actor. This allowance includes any grants previously received in accordance with Section 3.12 of the European Commission’s Temporary Framework; all figures used must be gross, that is, before any deduction of tax or other charge;

Grants provided under this allowance shall not be cumulated with other subsidies for the same costs.

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