COVID-19: Understanding Government Business Measures

April 6, 2020

Amongst a range of measures introduced by the Government amid the Coronavirus, recent communication has alluded to the sense that additional measures to assist ratepayers with business rates will be unveiled. The details of these measures are yet to be revealed, however, we have detailed all of the given information to date below.

Business Rates Retail Discount

Within the budget announced on 11th March 2020, the Chancellor announced an extension to the existing Business Rates Retail Discount, so that it is extended to 100%. This also applies to occupied retail, leisure and hospitality properties in the 2020 to 2021 tax year. This is being referred to as a Business Rates Holiday.

The Chancellor has stated that there will be no limit of the rateable values of property that can claim this relief. This is a temporary measure however, it will not be introducing new legislation to implement this additional form of relief. Instead, providing that the eligibility criteria are met, local authorities are encouraged to use their relief powers under section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.

In order to qualify for the relief, the premises should be wholly or mainly used for one of the below categories:

  • Shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues.
  • Assembly and leisure.
  • Hotels, gues and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.

Please note that premises which have been closed temporarily due to the Government’s advice on Coronavirus should be treated as occupied for the purposes of this relief.

You will not be eligible for the relief if your premises is used for the below:

  • Financial services.
  • Other services (eg estate agents, letting agents, employment agencies).
  • Medical services (eg vets, dentists, doctors).
  • Professional services.
  • Post office sorting offices.
  • Casinos and gambling clubs.

This relief will be applied automatically to the next council tax bill in April 2020. Local authorities may need to reissue bills to exclude the business rate charge and they will do this as soon as possible. You need not make contact or apply for this relief. Ratepayers that occupy more than one property will be entitled to relief for each of their eligible properties.

Business Rates Grant to Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Businesses

The Government have also announced a grant worth up to £25,000 will also be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value of up to £51,000.

The of this grant will be determined as follows:

  • For eligible businesses with a rateable value of under £15,000 they will receive a grant of £10,000.
  • For eligible businesses with a rateable value of between £15,0001 and £51,000 they will receive a grant of £25,000.

With the upper limit being £51,000 many businesses would appear to be excluded within these sectors. This grant is in place to support smaller businesses outside city centres, where rateable values are likely to significantly exceed this threshold.

The Government released further guidance regarding the eligibility for this grant:

  • A business will be eligible for the grant if it is based in England and is in the retail hospitality and/or leisure sector.
  • Properties that will benefit from the scheme will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly used as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas, live music venues, assembly, leisure, ss hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.

Much like the Business Rates Retail Discount, no proactive action is required on behalf of the ratepayer. The Government guidance note states that the local authority will write to ratepayer that are eligible for the grant.

Support for Nurseries That Pay Business Rates

The Government has announced a business rates holiday for nurseries during the 2020 to 2021 tax year. The business must be based in England, the premises must be occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register and the premises must be wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation stage.

Again, the Government has stressed that this will be automatically applied to eligible bills in April 2020.

Business Rates Grant for Small Businesses

Similar to the grant scheme, the Government have announced support for eligible small businesses that pay little or no business rates, in the form of a one-off grant of £10,000. The Government guidance does not specify that the grants will be limited to any particular sector.

The business must be based in England, it must be a small business that already received Small Business Rate Relief and/or Rural Rate Relief and it must be a business that occupies property.

Local authorities will write to the ratepayer directly if they are eligible for this grant.

We remain open to support you with any of the above information, please click here to get in contact with a member of our experienced team.

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