Coronavirus: support for business

Updated 19.01.22

Business grants: Coronavirus

Discretionary Omicron Business Grant

In December 2021, the Chancellor of the Exchequer outlined that Councils will receive a new allocation of Additional Restrictions Grant Funding (ARG). The Additional Restrictions Grant allows Councils to make discretionary business grant payments, and it is intended that this new allocation will allow the Council to support business impacted by the Omicron Covid 19 variant / but who were not entitled to the mandatory Omicron Hospitality & Leisure Grant.

In early January 2022 Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council received its ARG Omicron allocation of £221,000.

The Council, following guidance published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, have reviewed how its allocation will spent, and have targeted support towards Leisure and Hospitality businesses and businesses who supply the Leisure and Hospitality sectors. The Council have identified the businesses eligible for this funding and these businesses have been contacted and invited to apply for a discretionary grant.

The Council estimates that its entire allocation of Discretionary Grant funding will be exhausted following this action and therefore if you have not been directly contacted by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council to apply for this discretionary funding and you are not eligible for the mandatory Omicron Hospitality & Leisure Grant then unfortunately there is no recourse to funding for you business at this present time.

This page will be updated should the local position change.

Successful applicants will receive the following payments:

Successful applicants payments table
RV Fixed Property Costs (Mortgage / Rent) Grant
£15k and Under £15k and under £2,667
Over £15k but upto £51k Over £15k but upto £25k £4,000
Over £51k Over £25K £6,000

For businesses that have been invited to apply for discretionary funding the Council would like to remind you that the deadline to apply is 23:59 Friday February 11th 2022

Omicron Hospitality & Leisure Grant

The Omicron Hospitality & Leisure Grant is intended to support eligible hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses, in recognition of the effect that the rise of the Omicron variant may have on their business operations.

Eligible businesses will receive the following payments:

  • a one-off grant payment of £2,667 for properties with an RV of £15,000 or under on the 30th December 2021
  • a one-off grant payment of £4,000 for properties with an RV of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 or under on the 30th December 2021
  • a one-off grant payment of £6,000 for properties with an RV of exactly £51,000 or over on the 30th December 2021

Eligibility

Your business may be eligible if it is:

  • registered for Business Rates with Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
  • in the eligible hospitality, leisure or accommodation sectors as specified by Central Government
  • trading on 30th December 2021

You cannot get funding if your business:

  • is in administration, insolvent or has been struck off the Companies House register
  • has exceeded the permitted subsidy allowance

You must notify Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council if your situation changes and you no longer meet the eligibility criteria.

Application & payment

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council are currently in the process of identifying those businesses that are eligible for the Omicron Grants.
An email will be issued to those who we believe are eligible for the grant and this will contain a link to the required application form. If you believe that your business is eligible but you have not received an email inviting you to apply by Friday 21st January 2022, please email businessrates@blackburn.gov.uk providing your business rates account number and business address.

Please be aware that the closing date for applications to be received in midnight on the 21st February 2022. Any applications received after this date will not be processed.

Support grant

The window for new applications closed on midnight Monday 31st May 2021.

The Government has announced further funding to support businesses that are required to close to due to either local or national restrictions.

Businesses that are eligible to claim the grant are those that have a business rates assessment and have been forced to close by the Government, and include non-essential retail, leisure, personal care, sports facilities and hospitality businesses. This will also include those businesses that were required to close under the Tier 4 local restrictions, in place from the 31st December 2020.

The Support Grant is split into two periods:

  • 5th January 2021 – 15th February 2021: The scheme will close for new applications on the 31st March 2021
  • 16th February 2021 -31st March 2021: The scheme will close for new applications on the 31st May 2021
Discretionary grant

The window for new applications closed on midnight Sunday 31st January 2021. Further calls for applications will be made subject to local business need and available funds.

In response to the current restrictions, the Council’s discretionary grant programme will continue to deliver limited financial support for businesses required to close who do not have a Business Rates assessment (such as those in shared accommodation), as well as those businesses which remain open but are severely impacted. In line with the guidance provided to Local Authorities by Government, the Council will look to provide ongoing financial support to cover fixed property costs, subject to eligibility and available funds, as outlined in the table below.

Following the Prime Minister’s update on restrictions (22nd February), the next payment cycle covers 16th February to 31st March 2021. Businesses which have successfully applied for a discretionary grant since the National Lockdown in November 2020 will be contacted in due course.

Discretionary grant information table
Rateable value Annual rent or mortgage (where no rateable value) Grant value covering 5th January-15th Feb 2021 Grant value covering 16th Feb-31st March 2021
Businesses required to close by law Severely impacted open businesses Businesses required to close by law Severely impacted open businesses
£15,000 or less £15,000 or less £2,000 £1,400 £2,096 £1,467

Over £15,000 and less than £51,000

Over £15,000 and less than £25,000

£3,000 £2,100 £3,143 £2,200
£51,000 and over £25,000 and over £4,500 £3,150 £4,714 £3,300

Rateable value and amount of support available

If you are successful with your application the payments will be made as soon as possible, based on the rateable value of your property:-

State aid rules

The Local and National Restrictions Support Grant counts towards state aid. The rules are fully explained in the Government state aid guidance.

By accepting a grant you are confirming that you are not in breach of these rules.

Blackburn with Darwen Taxi Driver Covid 19 grant

The application window for this grant closed on Sunday 14th March 2021.

As part of its Covid19 discretionary business grant programme, the Council will award a one-off grant payment of £500 to taxi drivers who have continued to operate but are affected by the current restrictions.

The Council recognises that restrictions on travel, as well as the closure of many venues across the hospitality and leisure sectors, has reduced overall demand for taxi services.

To be eligible, a driver must be:

  • a resident of Blackburn with Darwen,
  • hold an existing Taxi Driver license issued by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
  • able to provide evidence of trading since September 2020
  • able to identify the impact of Covid19, such as loss of income
  • able to provide information which allows the Council to verify the applicant’s bank account details

Given the volume of applications, payments are unlikely to be made until after the application window has closed

How to create a customer account on DCP - YouTube

Please see the full information for taxi drivers and operators.

Restart grants

The window for self-certification closed on midnight 30th June 2021.

The Restart Grant scheme supports businesses in reopening safely as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Grants will be available from April 2021.

Eligible businesses will be paid:

  • a one-off grant of up to £6,000 in the non-essential retail sector
  • a one-off grant of up to £18,000 in the hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym sectors

Eligibility

Your business may be eligible if it is:

  • registered for Business Rates with Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
  • in the non-essential retail, hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care or gym sectors
  • trading on 1 April 2021

You cannot get funding if your business:

  • is in administration, insolvent or has been struck off the Companies House register
  • has exceeded the permitted subsidy allowance

Self-certification payment

Please note that there is no application form to complete but you will be required to self-certify that you meet all eligibility criteria.
If you have already applied and been paid a Business Support Grant from November 2020 onwards, you will receive an email around the 6th April 2021 and this will contain a link to your self-certification form. You will be required to complete the self-certification before any payment is made.

Subsidy allowance

What is the subsidy allowance?

The subsidy allowance refers to the provisions which exist to limit the amount of funding any one organisation or business can receive as part of grant schemes put in place by the government. The rules relating to this scheme form part of the Trade and Co-Operation Agreement reached between the United Kingdom and the European Union when the United Kingdom left the European Union. Previously, these rules were known as State Aid.

Business which have received less than 325,000 special drawing rights (the equivalent of £335,000 as at 3rd March 2021) over a period of three fiscal years do not need to take any further action. Any grants paid will be below the threshold that has been set but businesses should note that this threshold covers all branches of the business, including any subsidiary companies within a Group Structure. This is known as the 'Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance'.

Businesses which have received more than the 'Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance' over a period of three fiscal years can opt to receive an additional £1,600,000 as part of provisions enacted to assist businesses impacted by Covid 19. This is known as the 'Covid 19 Business Grant Allowance'. This allowance can be combined with the 'Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance'.

If a business has exceeded the two allowances referred to above it is eligible to receive a further allowance of up to €9,000,000 if the criteria below are met. This known as the 'COVID-19 Business Grant Special Allowance':

  1. The Special Allowance covers only the applicant's uncovered fixed costs incurred during the period between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2022, including such costs incurred in any part of that period ('eligible period');
  2. Applicants must demonstrate a decline in turnover during the eligible period of at least 30% compared to the same period in 2019. The calculation of losses will be based on audited accounts or official statutory accounts filed at Companies House, or approved accounts submitted to HMRC which includes information on the applicant's profit and loss;
  3. 'Uncovered fixed costs' means fixed costs not otherwise covered by profit, insurance or other subsidies;
  4. The grant payment must not exceed 70% of the applicant's uncovered fixed costs, except for micro and small enterprises (for the purposes of this scheme defined as less than 50 employees and less than £9,000,000 of annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet), where the grant payment must not exceed 90% of the uncovered fixed costs;
  5. Grant payments under this allowance must not exceed £9,000,000 per single economic actor. This allowance includes any grants previously received in accordance with Section 3.12 of the European
    Commission's Temporary Framework; all figures used must be gross, that is, before any deduction of tax or other charge;
  6. Grants provided under this allowance shall not be cumulated with other subsidies for the same costs.

An applicant must be able to provide the necessary documentation to demonstrate it is eligible for funding under the COVID-19 Business Grant Special Allowance. The Council is required by government to verify that an applicant can meet all the criteria set before awarding grants under the COVID-19 Business Grant Special Allowance.

The Council acknowledges that this is a complex area. The Council is unable to provide advice regarding the domestic subsidy allowance provision. Any organisation or businesses wishing to claim grants under the COVID-19 Business Grant Special Allowance is encouraged to seek appropriate professional advice before submitting a claim.

Business rates reliefs 2020/21

Retail discount

You could qualify for retail discount if your business is a:

  • shop
  • restaurant, café, bar or pub
  • cinema or music venue
  • hospitality or leisure business - for example, a gym, a spa, a casino or a hotel

If you’re eligible, you could get:

  • 100% off your business rates bills for the 2020 to 2021 tax year (1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021)
  • 100% off your business rates bills for the first 3 months of the 2021 to 2022 tax year (1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021)
  • 66% off your business rates bills for the rest of the 2021 to 2022 tax year (1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022) - up to a total value of £2 million

If your business was legally allowed to open during the national lockdown starting 5 January 2021, your discount for 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022 will be capped at £105,000 rather than £2 million.

You can get the retail discount on top of any other business rates relief you’re eligible for.

If you opt out of the retail discount for the 2021 to 2022 tax year you cannot change your mind.

Nursery discount

You could qualify for nurseries discount if both:

  • your business is on Ofsted’s Early Years Register
  • your premises is wholly or mainly used to provide the Early Years Foundation Stage of education

If you’re eligible, you could get:

  • 100% off your business rates bills for the 2020 to 2021 tax year (1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021)
  • 100% off your business rates bills for the first 3 months of the 2021 to 2022 tax year (1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021)
  • 66% off your business rates bills for the rest of the 2021 to 2022 tax year (1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022) - up to a total value of £105,000

You can get the nurseries discount on top of any other business rates relief you’re eligible for.

If you opt out of the nurseries discount for the 2021 to 2022 tax year you cannot change your mind.

Additional relief information

Where we can, we will award any relief direct to the account. If you believe you are eligible but have not had the relief awarded to your account, please email us at 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.

Recovery

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

If you are having difficulties paying, you must contact us as soon as possible. To speak to an advisor call 01254 588115 between the hours of 10am and 3pm; alternatively you can email us at businessrates@blackburn.gov.uk

We can check that you are receiving all the discounts and reliefs that you may be entitled to, and discuss payment options with you. We may be able to offer alternative payment dates or extend payments to help you.

If you don't pay

Payments are due on or before the date detailed on your most recent business rates bill. If you do not pay in line with the bill, recovery action will be taken and this may incur further costs.

A reminder notice can be issued at any time after a payment becomes due.

If you fall into arrears again, a final notice will be issued and the full balance of your account will become due, following which, if the amount is not paid in full a Summons will be issued.