Frequently asked questions
We have put together some handy frequently asked questions to help you understand the guidance from Government.
Can businesses with multiple properties claim multiple grants? (e.g. Can a newsagent with three shops with less than £15k rates, claim three £10k grants?)
Businesses eligible for the Small Business Grant scheme and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant scheme can claim one grant per eligible property. The business in the example would be able to claim three grants providing all properties meet the eligibility criteria. However, there are very few circumstances in which all three properties would be eligible for the Small Business Grant scheme. Multiple grants are more likely under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure scheme.
Do businesses who do not pay business rates such as those operating out of Business Centres or Enterprise Zones qualify for Cash Grants?
If a business is not registered for business rates, they will not get funding through these schemes.
If a business has challenged or appealed its rateable value and the challenge/appeal is outstanding at 11 March 2020, how will this be treated?
Any changes to the rating list (either to the rateable value or to the hereditament) after 11 March 2020, including changes backdated to this date should be ignored for the purposes of eligibility.
However, in cases where it was factually clear to the local authority on 11 March 2020 that the rating list was inaccurate on that date, Local authorities may withhold or award the grant based on eligibility had the list been accurate. This discretion is only intended to prevent clear errors. Any decisions made after 11 March 2020 should not affect eligibility.
If a hereditament does not resume trading after the shutdown, is it still eligible for a cash grant?
Yes, as long as the business is not in liquidation or dissolved when the grant is awarded, and otherwise meets all applicable conditions, it is eligible for a grant.
Are sole traders without Companies House record eligible?
Provided they are an eligible ratepayer with an eligible rating assessment then they will qualify.
What happens where there is more than one liable party per property? Do they get a grant each, or are they expected to share?
Each hereditament will only have one registered ratepayer. They will take receipt of the grant.
What should local authorities do where the ratepayer is an independent franchisee and the named individual has changed since 11 March but the ratepayer business remains the same?
local authorities should exercise discretion. The 11 March 2020 date was established to avoid businesses being created and registering simply for the purpose of being eligible for grants
What is the guidance regarding properties with zero rateable value, for example, where a tourism business is renovating properties? As the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality scheme states ‘up to £15,000 rateable value’ some businesses are interpreting this to mean that zero rateable value is included, as there is no minimum set.
A property with a rateable value of nil on 11 March 2020 is in effect not in rating and, furthermore, was clearly not trading before COVID-19. It is therefore outside of the scheme.
Is there any clarification on whether Nursery/Childcare facilities will be eligible for the £10/25k grant?
Properties falling within the Nursery business rates discount scheme are not eligible unless they were in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief as of 11 March 2020.
Would businesses telling local authorities now that they moved in prior to 11 March 2020 be eligible for a grant if they are entitled to Small Business Rate Relief?
Any changes to the rating list after 11 March 2020, including changes which have been backdated to this date, should be ignored for the purposes of eligibility. Local authorities are not required to adjust, pay or recover grants where the ratings list is subsequently amended retrospectively to 11 March 2020.
The eligible business is the ratepayer in local authority records for 11 March.
A business has lost Small Business Rate Relief as they didn’t return the previous review form/reply to letters. Does this mean that the business could get a 100% rates holiday but not the £10k Small Business Grant?
In effect this means that on 11 March this property did not fall within section 43(4B(a)) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 (see para 17 of the guidance) and therefore they are not eligible under the Small Business Grants Fund. But if they are eligible under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund they may get a grant under that scheme.
Businesses without valuation for rates (e.g. small kiosks based within parks) are missing out because they are too small to be rated. Should they receive this grant?
No. Only properties in the rating list are eligible.
Are community organisations (e.g. community centres, sports clubs and scout groups) eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund?
If a community organisation meets all the criteria for eligibility set out in the guidance it is eligible for a grant.
Are suppliers to the leisure and hospitality sectors covered, for example businesses who supply, launder and sell linen to hotels and restaurants?
The grants schemes replicate the eligibility for the specific rate relief schemes. Supply chain businesses who do not meet the eligibility criteria are not within the scheme.
Is there any limit on the number of different hereditaments a business can get relief for?
Businesses will be able to claim for any hereditaments that met the eligibility criteria as of 11 March 2020 up to the limit set by state aid.
Are Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) that are eligible for Mandatory Rate Relief and the Extended Retail Relief (as a leisure provider) entitled to the second scheme?
If they would have been eligible for the Expanded Retail Scheme on 11 March 2020 then they qualify. Properties that had rate discounts increased to 100% using local discretion on 11 March 2020 still qualify for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grant. The same principle applies with charity shops.
Are small brewers with rateable values less than £51k covered by the scheme?
If they would have been eligible for the Expanded Retail Scheme on 11 March 2020 then they qualify.
Can businesses like B&Bs operating with domestic rates (council tax) still be eligible for the grant?
No, only properties in the rating list are eligible.
Charities getting Charitable Rate Relief get the Expanded Retail Discount so why not the grant?
Charities receiving Charitable Rate Relief can’t be eligible for Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief and therefore cannot be eligible under the Small Business Grants Fund. They may be eligible under the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Grants Fund if they meet the eligibility criteria (e.g. charity shops).
What is the advice if businesses have recently moved to new premises and are yet to receive communication in regard to rates?
The core rule is based on the circumstances at 11 March. If the business was there on 11 March local authorities have discretion to include them, as per para 33 of the guidance. Local authority discretion should only be used to prevent manifest errors (para 41).
How do these business grants relate to businesses in arrears?
The grant is not formally part of the business rates system and therefore cannot be used to offset arrears in business rates.
How should grants be administered where a business is in administration or liquidation as of the 11th March?
Businesses that were in liquidation or were dissolved as of the 11 March will not be eligible. Businesses that fall into administration or are dissolved after 11 March and before their grant is paid will also not be eligible.
Businesses which fail the undertaking in distress test on 31 December 2019 are also ineligible for payments under the COVID-19 Temporary Framework for UK Authorities.
How does this funding work with shared space/serviced offices, where tenants are not the rate payers?
Only businesses with their own assessment for business rates and eligible for Small Business Rates Relief, Rural Rates Relief or Expanded Retail Discount with a rateable value below £51,000 will be eligible for the grant. Businesses which are not ratepayers are not eligible.
We understand for some shared space or service offices, individual users do have their own rating assessment and may be eligible. In these cases, we encourage landlords to support local government in ensuring the grant reaches eligible ratepayers.
I am not the ratepayer and my landlord pays the rates on this space. Will I get funding?
This funding is to support small and rural businesses who are ratepayers on a property. These businesses are more likely to have ongoing fixed costs.
Is the payment to be declared as trading income by a ratepayer who is tax resident in the UK? If so, in which tax year?
These grants are taxable. Grant recipients must take their own tax advice.
If the ratepayer is not tax resident in the UK, are they still entitled to the grant?
Yes. ratepayers will be eligible if they are not tax resident in the UK.