Coronavirus: support for business

Updated 26.03.20

The Government has confirmed a package of financial measures to support businesses.

Business rates reliefs

100% rates discount

The chancellor had announced in the budget that all hospitality, leisure and retail businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000 would be eligible for a 100 per cent rates discount. On the 17th March 2020 the Chancellor extended that to cover all retailers of any size, irrespective of rateable value.

100% retail relief has been extended to all retail, hospitality and leisure properties (such as museums, live music venues, theatres, gyms and hotels) for the whole of 2020/21.

Following the announcement on 23 March 2020 of further measures to limit the spread of coronavirus, the Government confirmed that some of the exclusions for this relief have been removed, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that will have had to close as a result of the restriction measures will now be eligible for the relief.

The following hereditaments that are being used for the provision of the following services will not qualify for the relief:

  • Financial services (e.g. banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, short-term loan providers)
  • Medical services (e.g. vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors)
  • Professional services (e.g. solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers)
  • Post office sorting offices
  • Not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public

*Government has applied to the EU to waive state aid limits that currently apply.

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council have now received the required guidance from central Government in order to identify those businesses who will qualify for the 100 per cent rates discount for the 2020/21 financial year. We are currently taking steps to identify all eligible ratepayers and award the relief. All eligible businesses will receive confirmation of their award in early April 2020.

Pub relief

The Chancellor did announce additional relief for pubs totalling £5,000. However, as Pubs are now specifically included in the 100% retail relief outlined above, this relief no longer applies.

Nursery discount 2020/21: coronavirus response

On 18 March, in response to the coronavirus, the Government announced that many childcare providers would pay no business rates in 2020/21. 100% relief will be paid to all premises occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register and wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage and which are subject to business rates in the year 2020/21.

We are currently taking steps to identify all eligible ratepayers and award the relief. All eligible businesses will receive confirmation of their award in early April 2020.

Additional relief information

Where we can, we will award any relief direct to the account. Where we can't, we will contact affected businesses and will provide updates on our webpage giving advice on how to claim and how to contact us.

If you think you are eligible, but haven’t heard from us by 15 April 2020, please email us on businessrates@blackburn.gov.uk

You do not need to employ rating agents or other organisations outside of the Council to claim the support that is available. These agents will probably take a percentage of any relief or grant they claim on your behalf. Please be extra careful with what you sign and how you respond to organisations that may contact you offering support.

Cash grant for businesses

Small Business grant fund or retail, hospitality & leisure grant

If you believe you are eligible for either grant we would ask that you complete the online form & provide the required information. This will help to expedite the process but should not be taken as a guarantee that a grant will be paid. Any grants will be paid through your business bank account.

To apply you will need your

  • Business rates account number
  • Bank account details
  • VAT registration number (if applicable)
  • Company registration number (if applicable)

Apply for a grant

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council are expecting to start making payments of the grant in early April 2020.

Small business grant fund

The Chancellor announced additional relief for those in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (including those with a Rateable Value between £12,000 and up to £15,000 in receipt of tapered relief) on the 11th March 2020.

Under the Small Business Grant Fund all businesses in England in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief and Rural Rates Relief in the business rates system will be eligible for a payment of £10,000 in line with the eligibility criteria:

  • Hereditaments (properties) included in this scheme are those which on the 11th March 2020 were eligible for reliefs:
    • Hereditaments (properties) to which Small Business Rates Relief has been applied
    • Hereditaments (properties) to which Rural Rates Relief has been applied
  • Eligible recipients will receive one grant per hereditament (property)

Exclusions to the Small Business Grant Fund:

  • Hereditaments (properties) used for personal uses
  • Car Parks and Parking Spaces
  • Businesses which as of the 11th March 2020 were in liquidation or dissolved

Retail, hospitality & leisure grant

Grant funding of up to £25,000 will be made available for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector if they have a rateable value of 15,000.01 up to £51,000 in line with the eligibility criteria:

  • Hereditaments (properties) included in this scheme are those which on the 11th 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 had that scheme been in force for that date.
  • Eligible recipients will receive one grant per hereditament.
  • Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or over are not eligible for this scheme

Exclusions to the retail, hospitality & leisure grant:

  • Hereditaments (properties) used for personal uses
  • Car parks and parking spaces
  • Businesses which as of the 11th March 2020 were in liquidation or dissolved
  • Hereditaments (properties) with a rateable value of over £51,000

Additional grant information

Who will receive this funding?

  • The person / company who according to the billing authority’s records was the ratepayer in respect of the hereditament on the 11th March 2020
  • The grant is for the ratepayer and may be liable for recovery if the recipient was not the ratepayer on the eligible day
  • Where the local authority has reason to believe that the information that they hold about the ratepayer on the scheme eligibility date is inaccurate they may withhold or recover the grant and take reasonable steps to identify the correct ratepayer
  • Any business caught falsifying their records to gain additional grant money will face prosecution and any funding issued will be subject to claw back.

Important Note: You do not need to employ rating agents or other organisations outside of the Council to claim the support that is available. These agents will probably take a percentage of any relief or grant they claim on your behalf. Please be extra careful with what you sign and how you respond to organisations that may contact you offering support.

Recovery

We expect that those businesses that can afford to pay maintain their direct debits or payment plans and keep up with their payment plan that is on the bill.

However, to support businesses that may be struggling at this time, we have agreed the following actions, following the award of the reliefs described above.

  • We will not submit a claim to banks for any direct debits that are due in April until the 100% Retail Relief has been applied. We will recalculate payment arrangements over the remaining 11 months where appropriate.
  • We would urge all businesses to pay what they can and seek advice where possible from their bank or other business support.
  • We have suspended all Enforcement Agent action to recover business rates that are overdue until the end of June.
  • We have suspended all recovery action for an initial 3 month period.

Contact

As you will appreciate, the situation is changing on a daily basis and so the above may be subject to change following further government announcements.

We can assure you however that we are working flat out to ensure we react as quickly as possible to support all businesses in implementing all the packages of assistance that the government instructs us to operate on their behalf once they have provided us with the details.

We would request that all contact is via email on the following email address businessrates@blackburn.gov.uk or through one of our online forms. We will aim to respond to you within 48 hours.

We would encourage you to visit the Business Rates webpage on a regular basis as we will post any updates here as soon as we are aware.