Since the full effects of the Covid-19 pandemic took hold back in March, governments all over the world have introduced a number of different policies to help businesses, public services and households impacted by the outbreak. In the UK, two of the biggest policies implemented by the government are in relation to the business rates system and business rate support.
The first of these involves the government waiving business rates for most businesses in retail, leisure and hospitality for the whole 2020-21 period, at a predicted cost of £10 billion. The second scheme provides grants of £10,000 and £25,000, which are now available for businesses, with the eligibility of such depending on the rateable value of the property which the business occupies, the sector of the business and a range of other factors.
These business rate support schemes and their design and implementation are hugely important. They have been put in place to help businesses who, if it were not for Covid-19, would otherwise be a largely viable business and helps aid them when it comes to a faster and fuller recovery from the economic impact.
However, there are some differences in the varying degrees of support available for businesses, especially across the different sectors. This could be justified by the largely uneven impact that Covid-19 is having on sales and profits, but the sectoral and even geographical differences between the support on offer could mean that a business is put at increased risk of failure, or even a slower economic recovery. This may then have long term implications when it comes to employment figures and business prosperity.
Business Rate Support For The Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Sectors
Businesses across the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors will pay no business rates in the 2020-21 financial year, no matter their usual rateable value. As part of the government’s business rate support scheme, all eligible businesses will have received new business rate bills as evidence of this. To qualify for the support, business properties must be occupied or have had to temporarily close due to government advice. If your business has more than one occupied property which you use for business purposes, then each one will be eligible for business rate support.
Support Given By Local Authorities
In total, local authorities have found that around 955,000 business properties are eligible for support, which is around 48% of all properties in the UK. 67% of these properties are included in sectors where they are also eligible for business rate support. So far, local authorities have given support grants to 87% of properties who are eligible for support, compared to 73% at the beginning of May.
However, some local authorities have been found to be more cautious when it comes to authorising grants than others and this suggests that they have had less capacity or been less efficient in providing eligible businesses with the payments they need in a swift manner. There are also some businesses which aren’t eligible for government grants or business rate support, leading to business owners asking for more support following Covid-19 to help their business financially recover.
With information and guidelines constantly changing, it can be hard to figure out what support, if any, your business is entitled to in midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The business rate support scheme offered by the government has been a huge help for many struggling businesses during the pandemic, but for those businesses that aren’t eligible, it can be a frustrating time, as business rates can be one of the biggest overheads for a business. If your business isn’t eligible for business rate support, then you may be eligible for further support, grants or loans available through the government.