A new Business Rates relief fund will provide a £1.5 billion tranche of support to businesses outside the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors affected by COVID-19.
Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses have not been paying rates during the pandemic as part of a 15 month-long relief which runs to the end of June this year. Many businesses that were banned from applying these reliefs have been appealing for discounts on their rates bills, arguing the pandemic represented a ‘material change of circumstance’ (MCC).
The government has rejected these claims for relief on the basis that market-wide economic changes to property values, such as from COVID-19, can only be properly considered at general rates revaluations, and will therefore be legislating to rule out COVID-19-related MCC appeals.
The government will instead provide a £1.5 billion pot that will be distributed to businesses in England affected by the pandemic and not on estimates of the impact on a property’s value. This method is designed to ensure the support is provided in the fastest and fairest way possible.
The funding will be allocated to local authorities based on the stock of properties in the area whose sectors have been affected by COVID-19. Local Authorities will use their knowledge of local businesses and the local economy to make awards.