On March 11 the Government announced its tax and spending plans for 2020/21 with the addition of a series of temporary rate reliefs and support for businesses in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

A further series of support was announced on 17 March and is reflected in the FAQs below.

These new measures mean that some business rates bill already sent to businesses for the coming year will need to be corrected and reissued. Below are the basic criteria followed by some FAQs for businesses. These will continue to be updated as the government issues further advice.

I think my business qualifies for the expanded retail/nursery discount but I've not had a new bill

The council is working hard to identify all those eligible but if you have not received a new bill by 17th April 2020 please complete our webform to confirm the type of business/use of the premises and we will check your entitlement.

Expanded Retail Discount webform

Will the relief be available to my empty retail unit?

No. These reliefs are for occupied premises only. If the premises are unoccupied due to the COVID 19 outbreak this will be classed as occupied for these reliefs

How do I apply for a grant?

A letter has been sent, or an email issued, to all ratepayers who receive Small Business Rate Relief and to all ratepayers who have been identified as potentially being eligible for the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Grant. Please follow the process in the letter to apply online.

I think I may qualify for a grant but have not received a letter

If you have not had a letter it may be because it was sent to your business premise which you may not currently have access to. Please complete our webform to request a letter

Grant letter request webform

I no longer occupy the business and need to let you know

You need to let us know so that we can update our accounts and ensure the correct person can apply for a grant if they qualify.

Occupier Update

I have a small shop but the business rates bills are still in the name of the previous occupier - what should I do?

We understand that there will be some businesses who have not updated the council when a business changes hands. If this applies to you please complete our Occupier Update webform 

Please also supply proof of occupation such as utility bills, documentation to show evidence of trading and a lease agreement, if applicable.

Occupier Update webform

I get Small Business Rate Relief and my business is a shop - can I claim both grants for my premises?

No. Each premises is only entitled to one grant so you can only get £10,000.

You already hold my bank details - will I receive the grant automatically?

No. You must confirm your eligibility for it by the process detailed on the letter/email you received from us

I run a chain of 5 hairdressers, will I only get one grant?

As each premises qualifies for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant you will get a grant for each

I run a nail salon in my living room - am I entitled to a grant?

No. These grants are based on business rates premises only. Domestic premises do not qualify.

I had signed a lease to start running my business on 15th March 2020 - do I qualify?

No. You must have been the ratepayer and occupying the premises on 11th March 2020 in order to qualify

I share my business premises with another company - will we both get a grant?

No. Only one grant is available per premises. The ratepayer on the councils records will be the only one entitled.

I run a leisure business from a premises with a small Rateable Value (RV) but I employ 50 people. What level of grant can I get?

If your RV is below £15,000 the grant would be £10,000. There is no variation of the grant amount due to the size of the business or the number of employees.

I have had a new bill with the Expanded Retail Discount but do not think I qualify as I am a dentist - what should I do?

If you have been granted the discount incorrectly please complete our webform, including the reason you do not think you qualify or why you do not wish to claim the relief. The discount will be removed and a correct bill issued.

Expanded Retail Discount webform

A direct debit is due to be taken out in April but I should not have to pay anything this year - what should I do?

The council has identified accounts that were due to be paid by direct debit to stop the request for all those eligible for the Expanded Retail Discount. You may wish to stop the direct debit directly with your bank. If a payment is taken that puts your account into credit this will be refunded as soon as we are able.

I received a grant through fraudulent means, what will happen to me?

Any business caught falsifying their records to gain additional grant money will face prosecution and any grant money will be clawed back.

My business qualified for the pub discount - will I still get this £5,000 off my bill?

The pub discount has been superseded by the Expanded Retail Discount and will not show on your bill as the Expanded Retail Discount covers 100% of your bill.

How will the grants be paid?

Payments can only be made into bank accounts via BACS. It is essential you provide a correct sort code, bank account and bank account holder. Payments are due to be released from 1st April 2020, however payments can take up to 14 days to process. Please note the council can withhold payment of the grant where it considers an application may be inaccurate.

What can I spend the grant on?

There are no restrictions or rules on how each business uses the grant payment

I have an appeal in with the Valuation Office to reduce my Rateable Value (RV) to below £51,000. If this succeeds can I claim the grant?

Retrospective changes in rateable value for periods before 11 March 2020 will not create an entitlement to the grant.

I built a large extension in January 2020 that I think will take my rateable value (RV) over £51,000. What will happen to the grant?

The council is not required to recover grants where the rating list is subsequently amended retrospectively. However if the council is aware of a rating list inaccuracy we have the discretion to withhold grant payments to prevent manifest errors.

My property will be split/merged or brought into the list as new from before 11th March 2020. What will happen about the grant?

The council has the discretion to withhold or award the grant where it is factually clear who would have been entitled if the rating list was accurate on 11th March 2020. The council is however not required to adjust, amend or recover grants when the list is subsequently amended

My business is not eligible for any of the new enhanced reliefs, will I get a new bill?

No. Your bill remains the same and should be paid in line with the instalments on your annual bill

I don't receive Small Business Rate Relief (SBBR) - will it be granted automatically if I am eligible?

No. Applications are not normally needed although a claim must be made for the relief.

Small Business Rate Relief request

You should continue to pay as per your existing bill whilst your claim is being considered.

Is there further support available for my business?

Yes. The Government has announced the launch of a new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and statutory sick pay reimbursements.

Further support for your business

Do I need to use a rating agent?

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.

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