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Welcome relief for high street

By April Foster

Moore Chartered Accountants

THE Chancellor has announced a raft of measures designed to help businesses during the coronavirus crisis. One of the headline measures announced in the Spring Budget was the Business Rates Holiday – 100 per cent relief from business rates for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in England for 2020/21.

Originally, the relief was available for businesses operating from premises with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000, but the Chancellor has since announced that the £51,000 limit is scrapped meaning that there is now no size restriction on businesses able to claim this relief.

Eligible businesses include shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, cinemas and music venues along with gyms, spas, casinos and hotels. The relief has recently been expanded to also include estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls that have had to close as result of the coronavirus.

In addition, a business rates holiday for the 2020 to 2021 tax year has been introduced for nurseries on the Ofsted Early Years Register providing the Early Years Foundation Stage.

However, some occupants of the high street who might be expected to benefit are specifically excluded from the Business Rates Retail Discount.

These include:

* Financial services (e.g. banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, payday lenders, betting shops, pawn brokers)

* Other services (e.g. employment agencies)

* Professional services (e.g. solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers, tutors)

* Post office sorting offices

There is lobbying in this area to remove the restrictions but no progress to date.

Business don’t need to take any action to benefit from the rates holiday which will be automatically applied by the local authority.

Government Grants

For smaller businesses, (i.e. those premises with a rateable value of less than £15,000 and who currently pay little or no business rates), the government will provide grants of £10,000 to help eligible businesses meet their ongoing business costs. The grant is available to businesses receiving small business rates relief (SBBR) or rural rates relief as at 11 March 2020.

For businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors (but we are assuming excluding estate agents, etc. listed above) operating from premises with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000, there is a grant payable of £25,000 to help them through the coming weeks when income from their trade is expected to fall.

Again, businesses do not need to apply for these grants, if eligible; they should be contacted by their local authority directly in early April.

It was also confirmed during the Budget that the Government is launching a fundamental review of business rates which will report in the autumn which is very welcome.

For further advice on any of the support available to businesses affected by the coronavirus, visit www.moore.co.uk/news-views or contact Moore on 01536 461900.


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