Campaign by leading firm of business rates advisors and other industry bodies pays off
2020 News over the weekend that that the Government will top-up the COVID-19 business grant funds scheme has been warmly welcomed by business rates experts at Colliers, a leading firm of property advisers.
The Government has set up a discretionary fund to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme and has announced that a fund of up to £617 million would be made available.
This is an additional 5% uplift to the £12.33 billion funding previously announced for the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF). The Government will confirm the exact amount for each local authority later this week.
This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. The Government is asking local authorities to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates. Local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need and the allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities.
Businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to Coronavirus restriction measures.
There will be three levels of grant payments. The maximum will be £25,000. There will also be grants of £10,000 and local authorities will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. It will be for councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances.
Commenting on the announcement, John Webber, Head of Business Rates, said, “This is welcome news and we are delighted that BEIS and MHCLG has listened to our calls and that of other bodies to rectify the situation whereby many small businesses in serviced offices were unable to claim the grants purely due to the way they pay their business rates.
We had estimated that 10,000 small businesses had fallen between the cracks and as part of our remit for serviced office providers IWG and WeWork and other clients, were fielding calls to tenants, set up a help line for such small businesses and lobbied on small businesses’ behalf to the Treasury, MPS and councils.”
“Of course the local authorities have been given discretion as to how they allocate the new grants, but we hope that now these have been guaranteed they will be distributed as quickly as possible to businesses who need them urgently. We will continue to help advise on the allocation as to who should benefit.
Overall it is great news that the Government has listened to the call of small businesses, which are the life blood of our economy and we praise its sensible and flexible approach.”
As of 27 April, over £7.5 billion of the COVID-19 Grant monies had been paid out to over 614,000 business properties via the SBGF and RHLGF schemes, which represented over 61% of the grant funding allocated to local authorities.