COVID-19 Support for Business Rate Payers

The information below was updated on 27 March 2020

The update provided on 25 March (see further down this page) confirmed the details of the business rates relief and grants that Government were making available to business rate payers in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This update is to confirm that we have written today to businesses which are eligible for both the Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Relief and the Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Grant. We have also written to a number of those businesses eligible for the Small Business Grant and the remainder of those letters will be sent on Monday (30 March).

Please be aware that some of these letters will be sent to business premises. If you have not received your letter by next Thursday (2 April) then please contact the business rates team at businessrates@winchester.gov.uk or telephone 01962 848 288.

 

The Government has also made a further amendment to the guidance for Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Relief which now includes the following as eligible properties:

  • Employment agencies
  • Estate agents and letting agents
  • Betting shops
  • Casinos, gambling clubs and bingo halls

     

These businesses may also be eligible for the grant referred to below.

We will be writing to these businesses by Tuesday (31 March) to clarify the position.

 

The information below was updated on 25 March 2020

Business Grants –

In response to the Coronavirus, Covid – 19, the Government announced there would be support for small businesses, and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors which were currently liable for Business Rates.

This support will take the form of two grant funding schemes:

  • the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF); and
  • the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG)

The detail below is a summary of the most important points of the scheme and clarification of who will be eligible for these grants. The complete detail, as released by Government, can be viewed here. We will be writing to eligible businesses shortly and providing an electronic online form for completion to collect the necessary information in order to make payment of the grant. We hope to have the form available for use by Monday 30th March. The Government will be providing the relevant funds to Councils for these grants on or before the 1st April 2020. Payment of the grant will then be made to businesses as soon after that date as possible.

Who will benefit from these schemes?

Small Business Grant Fund

Hereditaments included in this scheme are those which on the 11 March 2020 were eligible for relief under the business rate Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) Scheme (including those with a Rateable Value between £12,000 and £15,000 which receive tapered relief).

Hereditaments that were not eligible for percentage SBRR relief (including those only in receipt of the Small Business Rate Multiplier) are excluded.

Hereditaments which on 11 March 2020 were eligible for relief under the Rural Rate Relief (RRR) scheme are also eligible for this grant.

Eligible recipients will receive one grant per hereditament for £10,000.

 

Exclusions to Small Business Grant Fund

Hereditaments occupied for personal uses. Examples of where there may be personal use include private stables and loose boxes, beach huts and moorings.

Car parks and parking spaces are not eligible.

For the avoidance of doubt, businesses which as of the 11 March were in liquation or were dissolved will not be eligible.


Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant

Hereditaments which on the 11 March 2020 had a rateable value of less than £51,000 and would have been eligible for a discount under the business rates Expanded Retail Discount Scheme (i.e. “Retail Relief 2020-21”), had that scheme been in force for that date, are eligible for the grant.

Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000.

Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.

Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or over are not eligible for this scheme. Businesses which are not ratepayers in the business rates system are not included in this scheme.

Eligible recipients will receive one grant per hereditament.

 

Exclusions to Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant

Hereditaments occupied for personal uses. Examples of where there may be personal use include private stables and loose boxes, beach huts and moorings.

Car parks and parking spaces are not eligible.

For the avoidance of doubt, businesses which as of the 11 March were in liquation or were dissolved will not be eligible.

Hereditaments with a rateable value of over £51,000 are not eligible.

Only one grant may be awarded per hereditament.

 

Who will receive this funding? 

The person who, according to the billing authority’s records, was the ratepayer in respect of the hereditament on the 11 March 2020.

Where the Local Authority has reason to believe that the information that they hold about the ratepayer on the 11 March 2020 is inaccurate they may withhold or recover the grant and take reasonable steps to identify the correct ratepayer. Local Authorities should make clear to recipients that the grant is for the ratepayer and may be liable for recovery if the recipient was not the ratepayer on the eligible day.

Landlord and management agents are urged to support local government in quickly identifying the correct ratepayer.


Managing the risk of fraud

The Government will not accept deliberate manipulation and fraud - and any business caught falsifying their records to gain additional grant money will face prosecution and any funding issued will be subject to claw back.

The Government Grants Management Function and Counter Fraud Function will make their digital assurance tool, Spotlight, available to Local Authorities, and will offer support in using the tool and interpreting results.


Rating List Changes

Any changes to the rating list (rateable value or to the hereditament) after the 11 March 2020 including changes which have been backdated to this date should be ignored for the purposes of eligibility.

Local Authorities are not required to adjust, pay or recover grants where the rating list is subsequently amended retrospectively to the 11 March 2020.

 

Retail Relief for Business Rates (for Retail, Hospitality & Leisure sectors (including Pubs))

In HM Treasury’s budget on 11 March 2020, the government introduced further changes to Retail Relief to support businesses affected by COVID-19. The Government has now extended that support and has made additional commitments:

  • Retail Relief has increased from 50% to 100% and will apply to ALL occupied properties in the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality sectors, irrespective of RV (previous threshold was £51,000).
    • “Leisure and Hospitality” sectors have now been defined by Government as hotels, guest & boarding premises, self-catering accommodation and premises used for assembly and leisure. For full details of this relief, including the properties that Government consider to be included, please click here.
  • Pub Relief - Pubs that were due to receive this relief will now qualify for 100% Retail Relief.

We are currently applying these reliefs to business rates accounts and we hope to issue amended bills to you for 2020-21 by the end of this week (Friday 27th March).

To clarify, if you qualify for 100% Retail Relief there will be no business rates to pay for 2020-21. Our Retail Relief application form can be found here.