In a recent article, commercial property specialist, Richard Bowater, considered the impact of coronavirus on commercial tenancies. Now, he considers eligibility for a business rates holiday, as well as Government grants. Richard can be contacted by email or by completing the contact form at the foot of this page.
The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has announced a raft of measures to support businesses that are based in England through the difficult months ahead. How temporary they turn out to be will almost certainly depend not only on the length of the immediate crisis, but crucially on the extent of the longer-term damage to the economy.
In terms of business rates, the principle emergency measures are:
- A twelve month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England, commencing in April 2020;
- Pub Relief equivalent to a £5,000 discount off their 2020/21 business rates for pubs with a rateable value below £100,000 [some local authorities are saying this is in addition to the Retail Discount];
- A business rates holiday for nurseries, i.e. non-local authority providers of childcare, for twelve months from 6th April 2020, as long as the property used is occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register; and is wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage;
- Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all businesses in receipt of either small business rate relief or rural rate relief.
Importantly, the punitive unoccupied business regime will continue. That puts the onus on landlords to liaise with tenants to keep them in occupation wherever possible.
Also announced was the Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme. This is a £25,000 grant for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses that occupy property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000, or a £10,000 grant if the rateable value is less than £15,000.
Is my business eligible?
The full list is available here, but in summary, in order to qualify, your business must be based in England and either wholly or mainly used:
- as a shop, restaurant, café, cinema, drinking establishment, live music venue, estate/letting agency or bingo hall;
- for assembly and leisure which will include sports grounds and clubs, museums, leisure facilities and gyms, theatres and tourist attractions; or
- as a hotel, guest and boarding premises or self-catering accommodation, which includes caravan parks and sites.
Businesses will still be eligible even if they have closed temporarily on government advice.
Which businesses are not eligible?
The types of business which have been specifically excluded include:
- Professional services (solicitors, accountants, insurance agents, financial advisers, tutors);
- Medical services (dentists, vets, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors);
- Financial services (banks, building societies, bureau de change, betting shops, payday lenders, pawn brokers, cash points);
- Employment agencies;
- Casinos and gambling clubs; and
- Properties which are not reasonably accessible to members of the public.
How do I access a business rates holiday?
The discount should apply automatically to your next council tax bill in April 2020, although local authorities will need to reissue your bill to reflect the change. In most cases it should not be necessary to contact them.
Small Business Grant Scheme
The Small Business Grant Scheme has also been introduced offering a grant of £10,000 to businesses who pay very little or no business rates. Your business will automatically be eligible if it is based in England, occupies property and was in receipt of either small business rate relief or rural rate relief on 11th March 2020.