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COVID-19 HELP FOR BUSINESSES

BUSINESS RATE RELIEF AND GOVERNMENT GRANTS

Over the last week the government has announced a number of measures to try and help businesses get through the current crisis.  Three of these are linked to Business Rates.

All schemes are being reviewed almost on a daily basis so it is worth checking them every now and again to see if anything has changed.

All the support packages put together by the government (not just those linked to Business Rates) have been put onto the one webpage and can be seen by clicking here.  

The three reliefs linked to Business Rates are outlined below.  If you qualify, they will be applied to your account automatically by the Billing Authority who will send you an amended bill.  Some authorities are allowing people to submit online applications now if they don’t want to wait.

 

The Business Rates Expanded Retail Discount

This gives 100% Rate Relief to businesses in the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure sectors and has already been amended twice since the scheme was originally announced.  Changes include allowing Day Nurseries and Letting/Estate Agents to qualify for the relief.

Eligibility for the relief focusses on use, rather than type of building - so a shop used as an office will not qualify.  If you have more than one property you get the relief on all your properties except those that are not a ‘qualifying use’.  So you can have three shops and one office and you’ll get the relief on just the shops.

There is no cap on the size of the Rateable Value either so all qualifying uses will get the relief.

The property uses considered eligible for the scheme are listed in the guidance which also lists some of the uses that are not included.  Ultimately, the final decision as to who qualifies is down to the Billing Authority, so you need to contact them if you feel you have wrongly been refused the relief.

The government guidance on the relief can be viewed by clicking here. 

There is separate guidance for Day Nurseries by clicking here. 

One thing to be aware of is if you vacate a property halfway through the 2020/2021 financial year, then the ‘use’ test fails and Empty Property Rate Relief applies instead.  You will get the usual three months 100% empty rate relief but then the full liability will be due for the remainder of the year.  Businesses recently forced to close by the government will count as being occupied for the purposes of The Business Rates Expanded Retail Discount but a property subsequently cleared out of all furniture and fittings wouldn’t be.

If the property was already empty at the start of the scheme it doesn’t qualify, as it was not being used for a ‘qualifying use’ at the relevant date.

Small Business Grant Fund

This has been introduced for businesses that pay little or no business rates and enables small businesses to receive help to tide them over.

If you qualify for 100% Small Business Rate Relief or are within the ‘percentage’ reduction band that applies to properties with a Rateable Value of between £12,000 and £15,000 then you qualify for a grant of £10,000. 

Those in receipt of Rural Rate Relief (RRR) are also eligible for this grant.

Unlike The Business Rates Expanded Retail Discount, this relief applies to all property uses and not just those in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sectors.  The normal Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) rules apply so it will be for those businesses that mainly have just one property (though there are exceptions to the one property rule).

Full government guidance on the grant can be viewed by clicking here. 

 

The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund

In addition to the help they receive on The Business Rates Expanded Retail Discount, properties used for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure sectors also qualify for a grant.  The eligibility criteria is virtually the same with the notable exception of Day Nurseries which are not included in this scheme - though this could always change so keep checking for updates to the guidance.

The amount of grant depends on the size of the Rateable Value.  For those properties with a Rateable Value under £15,000, you will receive £10,000.  For those with a Rateable Value between £15,000 and £51,000 the level of grant is £25,000.

There is no grant for properties with a Rateable Value above £51,000.

Full government guidance on the grant can be viewed by clicking here. 

 

If you need any advice on the application of these schemes then please do not hesitate to call your regular contact at brown-co.com.