As a result of COVID-19, the Government has set out a package of measures to assist businesses through the disruption. This note concentrates on the business rates relief measures which have been announced, and summarises other associated financial measures which will assist businesses and are connected to business rates.

1. Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

The Government has announced that retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year will receive a business rates holiday.

The local authority will rebill those businesses in these sectors that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year.

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied premises that are wholly or mainly being used:

  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues;
  • for assembly and leisure;
  • as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.

You do not need to take any action to benefit from this relief. The relief will automatically be applied to your next bill in April 2020. If it is necessary to reissue your bill then this will be done as soon as possible by your local authority.

Further guidance for local authorities is available in the expanded retail discount guidance.

This business rate charge calculator will help you calculate the savings to be made as a result of this relief: business rates calculator.

2. Nursery businesses that pay business rates

Similar to the above, the Government has announced that there will be a business rates holiday for nurseries in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be premises which are:

  • occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register;
  • wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

As above, you will not need to take any action to benefit from this relief. The relief will automatically be applied to your next bill in April 2020. If it is necessary to reissue your bill then this will be done as soon as possible by your local authority.

Further guidance for local authorities is available in the nursery discount guidance. The calculator above can help you calculate the savings which can be made.

The remaining contents of this note are not business rates relief as such, but are other measures which are linked to businesses which occupy premises with a ratable value.

3. Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme has been introduced to provide businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

Businesses in England, who operate within these sectors and who have a property that has a rateable value of £15,000 and under will receive a grant of £10,000.

Businesses in England who operate within these sectors and who have a property that has a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied premises that are wholly or mainly being used:

  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues;
  • for assembly and leisure; and
  • as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.

If your business is eligible for this grant, you do not need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you. Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly. If you believe you are eligible but have not been contacted by your local authority in the next week, and you would like us to help, please contact us using the details below.

4. Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates

The government has announced that additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding will be made available via local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief.

This scheme will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet ongoing business costs.

A business is eligible if it is 1) based in England, 2) it is a small business and already receive SBBR and/or RRR and 3) if it is a business that occupies property.

As above, if your business is eligible for this grant, you do not need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you. Please contact us if you believe you are eligible but have not been contacted by your local authority in the next week.

Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.

5. Insurance

Of course, whilst these schemes will assist, businesses that have insurance cover for both pandemics and government-ordered closure should be covered by those policies. The coverage will be of far greater benefit than the measures outlined above. Whilst pandemic cover is less likely, we understand that many more policies will cover business where they are ordered to close by the government. As with all insurance, policies differ significantly so the policy documents should be carefully checked.

For more information, to discuss any of the above, or discuss how Ellisons may be able to assist with any of these issues, please contact Lee PearceJoe Brightman or Danielle Eley.