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Business Rate Relief and cash grants to bolster firms during COVID-19 outbreak

To support businesses in the UK, the Governments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have announced a series of Business Rate and Cash Grant packages to help them through the coronavirus outbreak.

To support businesses in the UK, the Governments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have announced a series of Business Rate and Cash Grant packages to help them through the coronavirus outbreak.

Business Rates and Cash Grants in England

The Business Rate Relief announcements in Budget 2020 have been extended as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This will mean that the Business Rates Retail Discount will now be available for all businesses occupying retail, leisure and hospitality properties for 2020/21, in most cases reducing the Business Rates bill for 2020/21 to nil.

In addition, grant funding of £25,000 has been announced for smaller businesses occupying retail, leisure and hospitality premises. These will be businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.

Grant funding has also been announced of £10,000 for all businesses, whatever their sector, who already receive small business or rural rate relief. Initial guidance from the Government confirmed that businesses would not need to apply for grant funding and they will be contacted by their local authority. Now local authorities have been issued with guidance, some have introduced an application process to apply for the grants.

It will therefore be necessary to visit the Coronavirus section of your local authority website in order to obtain details of how to claim.

As part of the business rates support package, the 100% relief for 2020/21 was extended to nurseries to support them through this difficult time.

Business Rates and Cash Grants in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Finance Minister has announced an emergency £100 million rates package to assist Northern Ireland businesses impacted by COVID-19. This includes a grant of £10,000 to be provided to all small businesses eligible for the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme and a grant of £25,000 to be provided to companies in the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors with a rateable value from £15,000 up to £51,000.

The application for grant funding in Northern Ireland is via the 'Start Now' link at the bottom of the Small Business Grant Scheme page of their website. 

This is an online form and requires the applicant to provide details of, Ratepayer ID, Occupancy ID, Sort Code, Account Number and Email Address. 

Delay in rates bill
  • Rate bills for 2020/21 were due to be issued in April 2020. To avoid placing financial pressure on ratepayers affected by COVID-19, rate bills will not be issued until June 2020.
  • This will happen automatically. Ratepayers do not need to request to have their rate bill deferred until June 2020.
  • When rate bills issue in June 2020, ratepayers can still choose to pay their bill in monthly instalments between June 2020 and March 2021.
  • Monthly Direct Debit payment plans will be automatically updated to collect payments between June 2020 and March 2021.

Rates holiday for businesses

There will be a three-month rates holiday for all business ratepayers, excluding public sector and utilities.
This means that no rates will be charged for April, May and June 2020. This automatically reduces the 2020-21 annual rate bill for business ratepayers by 25 per cent. This amount does not need to be paid back.

Small Business Rate Relief

The Small Business Rate Relief scheme will be continued in 2020-21. The rates of relief and thresholds for eligibility have not changed.

Hardship Rate Relief
  • The Hardship Rate Relief scheme is available for non-domestic ratepayers who have been affected by exceptional circumstances. 
  • However, at any time a ratepayer is experiencing any difficulty in paying a business rate bill, they are encouraged to contact LPS at the earliest possible opportunity, as in most cases payment arrangements can be put in place to assist.
  • Hardship Rate relief is only available on rates that are due – therefore, it will not be possible to claim it for April May and June 2020.  However, if your business has been affected during February and March 2020, you can apply.

Business Rates and Cash Grants in Scotland

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop has outlined the actions being taken by the Scottish Government to support business during this time:

  • A full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism.
  • £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief.
  • £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000.
  • 1.6% relief for all properties, effectively freezing the poundage rate next year.
  • Urging local authorities to relax planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate temporarily as takeaways.
  • Extending the go live date for the deposit return scheme to July 2022.
  • Halting the introduction of the Visitor Levy Bill.

This link directs applicants to their local authority where it will be necessary to download and complete an application form available from each local authority’s website.

We are now seeing the downloads for each authority start to become available.

Emergency business support

A helpline – 0300 303 0660 – providing businesses across Scotland with advice and guidance on COVID-19 has been announced and will be open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. Callers should select option ‘1’ to speak to the dedicated COVID-19 team.

Business Rates and Cash Grants in Wales

The Welsh Government has set out a range of measures designed to provide emergency financial support for small businesses:

  • Shops, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will receive 100% business rates relief and pubs with a rateable value of between £51,000 and £100,000 will receive a £5,000 reduction on their bill.
  • Expanding on this support a new package providing in 2020/21, retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in Wales with one-year business rates relief and a grant of £25,000 for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000.
  • It also provides a £10,000 grant to all businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less.

Businesses that qualify for this support should click here and then click on the relevant link to reach their local authority.

Once you have arrived at your local authority page, the application process for the grant funding is by completion of an online form specific to each local authority.

Some authorities are still in the process of developing their systems in order for the application to be made

Capital repayment holidays

The Development Bank of Wales will be offering all its business customers a three-month capital repayment holiday to help them manage the financial fallout from the virus.

Business Wales helpline

You can get help with your business online, or by calling the Business Wales Helpline on 0300 060 3000, which is open Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:30pm.

Need more help?

There are several ways in which we may be able to help. It’s always important to get good advice and that’s particularly true iat this present time. If you need help please talk to us on 0800 0523 555 or use our online enquiry form. We can offer initial consultations, advice and support over the phone if you have any concerns about face-to-face meetings.

For our latest COVID-19 news and guidance for your business, visit our dedicated Coronavirus Hub.
We will be updating it regularly as we continue to monitor and digest all the latest information.


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