Reliefs and reductions

1. Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund

Introduction

1.       On 25 March 2021 the Government announced a new COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund of £1.5 billion. The fund will be available to support those businesses affected by the pandemic but that were ineligible for existing support linked to Business Rates.

2.       The legislation required for this relief forms part of The Rating (coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Act 2021, which was given royal assent on the 15 December 2021.

3.       The £1.5 billion will be allocated to local authorities based upon the estimated rateable value in each local authority rating list which falls within the scope of the fund. Reigate & Banstead Borough Council have been allocated £3,513,858.

4.       The Government will, in line with the eligibility criteria set out their guidance, reimburse local authorities, by way of a Section 31 grant, where relief is granted using discretionary relief powers undersection 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.

5.       The guidance requires for individual billing authorities to adopt a local scheme and determine in each individual case whether, having regard to the government guidance and their own local scheme, to grant relief under section 47. The relief is available to reduce chargeable amounts in respect of 2021/22.

6.       This document provides a scheme of how it will be administered locally.

Which properties will benefit from relief

7.       In developing and implementing our scheme the government has outlined some basic qualifications in order for the funding of the relief to be reimbursed from the section 31 grant:

  • not award relief to ratepayers who for the same period of the relief either are or would have been eligible for the Extended Retail Discount (covering Retail, Hospitality and Leisure), the Nursery Discount or the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme (AGOSS)
  • not award relief to a hereditament for a period when it is unoccupied (other than hereditaments which have become closed temporarily due to the government’s advice on COVID-19, which should be treated as occupied for the purposes of this relief), and
  • direct their support towards ratepayers who have been adversely affected by the pandemic and have been unable to adequately adapt to that impact.

8.       In line with the legal restrictions in section 47(8A) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, billing authorities may not grant the discount to themselves, certain precepting authorities (e.g. a parish or county council) or a functional body, within the meaning of the Greater London Authority Act 1999.

9.       The relief should be applied after mandatory reliefs and other discretionary reliefs funded by section 31 grants have been applied, excluding those where billing authorities have provided relief using their wider discretionary relief powers introduced by the Localism Act 2011 which are not funded by Section 31 grants.

Qualifying properties

10.      For the purposes of the Reigate & Banstead Borough Council Scheme the following properties will qualify for the scheme:

  • Properties that an applicant is trading from must have been in the rating list on the 15 December 2021
  • The property must be occupied for any period that the relief is claimed
  • Properties which have not received (or could have qualified for ) the Expanded Retail Relief or Nursery Relief
  • Properties which are not occupied by Public Bodies e.g. NHS, Post Office
  • Properties occupied by businesses which have a Business Rate liability to pay after all other mandatory and Section 31 reliefs have been applied to their Business Rates account.

Non-Qualifying Properties

11.      For the purposes of the Reigate & Banstead Borough Council Scheme the following properties will not qualify for the scheme:

  • Properties not in the rating list on the 15 December 2021. If properties are subsequently brought into the rating list and backdated to a date before the 15 December 2021, they will not be considered for this relief
  • Properties which are unoccupied (other than for reasons attached to covid restrictions) will not be awarded the relief
  • Relief will not be awarded on properties with the following Valuation Office property descriptions:

➢ Advertising rights and premises

➢ Car parking spaces and premises

➢ Communication station and premises

➢ Bank and premises

➢ Building Society and premises

➢ ATM and premises

➢ College and Premises

➢ School and premises

➢ Hospital and premises

➢ Independent distribution network and premises

➢ Land (for any use) and premises

➢ Marketing Suite and Premises

➢ Show home and Premises

➢ Store and premises

➢ Surgery and premises

➢ Sports ground and premises

➢ Health centre and premises

➢ Sports ground and premises

➢ Any other description which we do not feel is in the spirit of the scheme.

  • Properties occupied by businesses who have already received the Expanded Retail Relief or the Nursery Relief
  • No relief will be granted to those businesses who already have no Business Rates liability, due to already receiving another mandatory or Section 31 Business Rate Relief
  • The relief will not be awarded to any business in administration, insolvent or has a striking off notice issued against it prior to 15 December 2021.

Application process

12.      Our application form is available on our website:

Apply here

13.      All applications must be received by midnight on 31 August 2022. No further applications will be accepted after this time as all relief must be applied by 30 September 2022.

14.      Evidence must be provided to demonstrate that the ratepayer has been affected by the pandemic. This evidence will normally be in the form of last audited accounts prior to March 2020 (pre-COVID), and current year’s accounts or financial statements since April 2021.

Amount of relief available

15.      Relief will be awarded of up to 30% of the residual Business Rates charge remaining after all other mandatory and Section 31 Business Rates Reliefs have been applied to a Business Rates account. Business rates that had a nil balance after all reliefs have been applied will not qualify.

16.      The percentage of relief will be awarded equally to all successful applicants. Where there is a surplus of funding still available after distribution of up to 30% per property, then the Council may open a new application window.

Period of Relief

17.      All relief will be awarded from the 01 April 2021 to the 31 March 2022.

18.      If the business has not been liable for this whole period their award will be pro-rata to reflect the Business Rates Liability.

19.      Awards will also be pro-rata to reflect any period when the property is unoccupied.

How the award will be made

20.      All successful awards will be applied to the qualifying Business Rates Account.

21.      There is no cash alternative to this relief.

Notification of decision

22.      Successful applicants will be issued with an updated Business Rates demand showing the award has been applied to their Business Rates account. Instalments on notices already issued must be maintained until an updated notice is issued, to prevent recovery action being taken against the account.

23.      All decisions will be communicated by email or in writing to businesses. Decisions will be made as soon as possible after applications are received, after the receipt of further information if required, and after pre-payment assurance checks have been carried out.

Subsidy Control

24.      The COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund scheme is subject to the subsidies chapter within the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).

25.      However, for COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund scheme there is an exemption for subsidies under the value of approximately £2,243,000 per economic actor (broadly speaking, for example, a holding company and its subsidiaries). This allowance comprises 325,000 Special Drawing Rights (at current exchange rates about £343,000) for Small Amounts of Financial Assistance and a further £1,900,000 for COVID-19 related subsidy.

26.      Therefore, to be awarded Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund Scheme you must not have claimed over the period 2019/20 to 2021/22 more than £2,243,000 from schemes which fell within the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance or COVID-19 related allowances. COVID-19 business grants you have received from local government and the 2019/20 Retail Relief should count towards this limit, but you should not count any Extended Retail Discount you have received since 1 April 2020. Further details of subsidy control can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-additional-relief-fund-COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund scheme-local-authority-guidance

27.      In your application for Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund Scheme you must indicate:

  • if you have not to date received any subsidy which fell within the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance or COVID-19 related allowances, confirm this in your application, or
  • if you have received other such subsidies, then you should provide the name and total value of those subsidies.

28.      You must not apply for Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund Scheme using this form if you have already exceeded the £2,243,000 allowance. However, we will still consider applications for support under the Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund Scheme. If you have reached this limit provided you can evidence that you:

  • Intend to use the support to fund uncovered fixed costs (costs not covered by profits for insurance etc) during the period of COVID-19. Economic actors may claim for up to 70% of their uncovered costs (although this 70% limit does not apply to small businesses with less than 50 employees and less than £9 million turnover where the limit is instead 90%), and
  • have shown a decline in turnover of at least 30% within the April 2020 to March 2021 period, compared to the same 2019 to 2020 period.

29.      You may claim up to a further £10 million of additional allowance (on top of the £2,243,000) if you meet the above tests and you have not claimed any other support from the additional allowance up to an aggregate £10 million limit (such as from the COVID-19 business grants).

Managing the risk of fraud

30.      The Council will not accept deliberate manipulation and fraud. Any business that dishonestly provides false or misleading information in communication with the Council, including verbal communication, will be committing a criminal offence contrary to the Fraud Act 2006 and will be subject to a criminal investigation and criminal proceedings may be taken against them.

31.      All information is subject to internal and external audit checks.

Cancellation and repayment

32.      Reigate & Banstead Borough Council and the Government will not accept deliberate manipulation and fraud. Any applicant caught falsifying their records to gain Business Rates Relief or found to be awarded the relief incorrectly will be subject to clawback.

33.      Post payment assurance checks may be undertaken. The Government’s Counter Fraud Function may support local authorities to carry out post-event assurance work to identify high risk awards.

34.      In making an application, applicants understand that their details may be shared with central government departments for monitoring, statistics and evaluation purposes.

Complaints and reviews

35.      No formal appeal rights exist. However, the Council recognises that applicants should be entitled to have a discretionary decision reviewed if dissatisfied with the outcome.

36.      Only the applicant or authorised agent may request a review against the decision not to award relief.

37.      Requests to have a decision reviewed must be made within two weeks of the notification of decision.

38.      Any requests for a review of a decision must be in writing via email to businessrates@reigate-banstead.gov.uk specifying reasons why a decision should be amended and supported by relevant new or additional evidence.

39.      Reviews will be deemed complete, and the original decision upheld, if further evidence requested from the applicant has not been received within 14 days of the request

40.      A full written explanation of the outcome of the review will be provided within 14 working days of the receipt of the written request.

Apply here