Financial help for businesses during coronavirus

Budget 3 March 2021

The government has announced an extension of the Expanded Retail Discount for Business Rates plus new support grants for 2021.  It is likely to take a number of days for us to receive and work through the detail of these schemes.  Once we have more information we will share it here.  Please do not email us in the meantime to ask about these changes,  every email reduces our ability to deliver the help that businesses need. If you have already applied for a grant, but have not heard from us, or received a payment through to the end of March, please be assured that we are working through applications and payments as quickly as possible.

Restart Grants  

The Restart Grant scheme supports businesses that are predominantly reliant on delivering in-person services for the general public in non-essential retail, hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym business premises.

The one-off grants are only available to businesses with a rateable value.  The amount payable depends on the rateable value and nature of the business.

Strand One to support non-essential retail premises to help them reopen safely: 

  • For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under on 1 April 2021, £2,667
  • For properties with a rateable value of over £15k and below £51k, £4,000
  • For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over, £6,000

Strand Two to support hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym business premises, which may open later under plans set out in the roadmap and will be more impacted by restrictions when they do reopen: 

  • For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under on 1 April 2021, £8,000.
  • For properties with a rateable value of over £15k and below £51k, £12,000
  • For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over, £18,000

Eligible Businesses

Subject to Subsidy Allowances, businesses are entitled to receive a grant for each eligible hereditament.

Businesses must be trading on 1 April 2021 to be eligible to receive funding under this scheme ie not insolvent and still in occupation of the premises as the ratepayer. 

Where a business appears to fall into both categories the business will need to declare which category constitutes 50% or more of the business.  Where it remains unclear which category the business falls into then we will use our discretion to decide.

Definitions:

Non-Essential Retail Business

  • Includes: a business that is used mainly or wholly for the purposes of retail sale or hire of goods or services by the public, where the primary purpose of products or services provided are not necessary to the health and well-being of the public.
  • Excludes: food retailers, including food markets, supermarkets, convenience stores, corners shops, off licences, breweries, pharmacies, chemists, newsagents, animal rescue centres and boarding facilities, building merchants, petrol stations, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, taxi and vehicle hire businesses, education providers including tutoring services, banks, building societies and other financial providers, post offices, funeral directors, laundrettes and dry cleaners, medical practices, veterinary surgeries and pet shops, agricultural supply shops, garden centres, storage and distribution facilities, wholesalers, employment agencies and businesses, office buildings, automatic car washes and mobility support shops.

Hospitality

  • Includes: a business whose main function is to provide a venue for the consumption and sale of food and drink.
  • Excludes: food kiosks and businesses whose main service is a takeaway (not applicable to those that have adapted to offer takeaways during periods of restrictions, in alignment with previous COVID-19 business grant schemes).

Leisure

  • Includes: a business that provides opportunities, experiences and facilities, in particular for culture, recreation, entertainment, celebratory events and days and nights out
  • Excludes: all retail businesses, coach tour operators, tour operators and rated telescopes.

Accommodation

  • Includes: a business whose main lodging provision is used for holiday, travel and other purposes.
  • Excludes: private dwellings, education accommodation, residential homes, care homes, residential family centres, beach huts

Gym and Sports

  • Includes: a commercial or non-profit establishment where physical exercise or training is conducted on an individual basis or group basis, using exercise equipment or open floor space with or without instruction, or where individual and group sporting, athletic and physical activities are participated in competitively or recreationally.
  • Excludes: home gyms, home exercise studios, home sports courts and home sports grounds.

Personal Care

  • Includes: a business which provides a service, treatment or activity for the purposes of personal beauty, hair, grooming, body care and aesthetics, and wellbeing.
  • Excludes: businesses that only provide personal care goods, rather than services; businesses used solely as training centres for staff, apprentices and others; businesses providing dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services which incorporate personal care services, treatments required by those with disabilities and services relating to mental health.

Other points to note

We are not permitted to make payments prior to 1 April 2021. The application closure date for this scheme is 30 June 2021 and final payments must be made by 31 July 2021.

If a grant is paid either in error, or as a result of incorrect declarations, then it will need to be repaid, and the recipient may be liable to recovery action. Grant payments are subject to pre and post payment checks. Grant income received by a business is taxable. The Restart Grant will need to be included as income in the tax return of the business.

Applications

On 7 April we emailed current recipients of the Local Restrictions Grants for the additional Restart information that we need.  We believe that this will cover most applicants.  For simplicity and speed we have modified the application form for Local Restrictions Support Grant for Closed Businesses to include a restart option.  Businesses not in receipt of an email that believe they are eligible should complete the application form with that option selected.  We will then email the applicant for the additional Restart information that we need, although please note due to the volume of enquiries this email will not be sent instantly.

Local Restrictions Support Grant for Closed Businesses

Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) is a mandatory grant, where businesses meet the criteria.  Businesses with more than one qualifying property will receive more than one grant.

These grants currently apply for Lockdown 2, Tier 3, Tier 4 and Lockdown 3.  Businesses are eligible if the law requires them to be closed.  As the restrictions have been different for each of these periods, different businesses will be eligible.  The period of payment also varies - for example payment for Lockdown 2 was for four weeks and for Lockdown 3 it is for an initial 42 days.

Payments are made on a pro-rata basis.  However, the underlying 14-day rate of payment is:

  • For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, grants to be £667
  • For properties with a rateable value of over £15k and below £51k, grants to be £1,000
  • For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over, grants to be £1,500

On 22 February 2021 the government announced a further Lockdown 3 payment for 44 days.

Eligible Businesses

  • Businesses must be ratepayers.  This means they must receive a rate demand in their name.  They can still be eligible even if 100% rate relief reduces the rate demand to zero.
  • They must have been open as usual and providing in-person services to customers from their business premises, and then required to close at the point that restrictions were introduced for their business
  • If they chose to operate as a takeaway, click and collect or online with delivery services they will be counted as closed because their substantive business has to close

Excluded

  • Businesses that have chosen to close, but not been required to, will not be eligible for this grant
  • Businesses which have already received grant payments that equal the maximum levels of State aid permitted under the de minimis and the Covid-19 Temporary State Aid Framework.
  • Businesses that are in administration, are insolvent or where a striking-off notice has been made

Applications

Where we already have a successful application for Lockdown 2 we are contacting applicants by email regarding the later restricted periods. If this is your business - please do not complete a further application form unless we ask you to do so. With regards to the new 44 day payment we will be contacting current grant recipients.  Please do not email us separately.

Businesses that have had to close at any point from 5 November 2020 onwards, and have not yet applied for a grant should apply here.  Please complete the application form once for each property, ensuring that you tick the periods that you have been closed.

Applicants need to give:

  • references from their rate demand,
  • an image of their bank account, showing account name, number and sort code
  • their company number, charity number and VAT registration number if they apply
  • information on any funds received through state aid or a declaration that the level of funds received does not exceed the limits

Apply for a grant

Other points to note:

  • Grant income received by a business is taxable, and will need to be included as income in the tax return of the business.  Only businesses which make an overall profit once grant income is included will be subject to tax
  • The Government will not accept deliberate manipulation and fraud - and any business caught falsifying their records to gain additional grant money will face prosecution and any funding issued will be subject to claw back, as may any grants paid in error
  • For the 42-day payment made for the period beginning 5 January 2021, the application closure date is 31 March 2021 and final payments must be made by 30 April 2021
  • For the 44-day payment made for the period beginning 16 February 2021, the application closure date is 31 May 2021 and final payments must be made by 30 June 2021

Other mandatory grants for businesses

Applications for all of these grants end on 31 March 2021 with last payments being made by 30 April 2021.

Local Restrictions Support Grant (Sector)

Eligible businesses are:

a. Nightclubs, dance halls, and discotheques

b. Sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars

These grants are available from 1 November, for times when the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) does not apply.  The rate of payment is the same as Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed).

Applicants should have qualified for a Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) for Lockdown 2 and we will contact them to arrange these additional payments.

Christmas Support Payment for wet-led pubs

Where authorities were in Tier 2 or Tier 3 on the 2 or 16 December a one-off lump sum of £1000 is available for pubs that derive less than 50% of their income from sales of food.

We have emailed everyone that we think may be eligible to request additional information.

For the purposes of this grant, pubs should under normal circumstances (without local or national restrictions) be described as: open to the general public, allow free entry other than when occasional entertainment is provided, allow drinking without requiring food to be consumed and permit drinks to be purchased at a bar.

For this grant, the definition of a pub excludes: restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, hotels, snack bars, guesthouses, boarding houses, sporting venues, music venues, festival sites, theatres, museums, exhibition halls, cinemas, concert halls and casinos.

Closed Businesses Lockdown Payment

A one-off payment for recipients of Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) for the period from 5 January 2021.  We are administering these payments alongside the closed grant.  Applications close on 31 March 2021 with final payments being made by 30 April 2021.

The payments are:

  • For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, £4000 
  • For properties with a rateable value of over £15k and below £51k, £6000
  • For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over, £9000

Discretionary help for businesses

There are two sources of discretionary funding available.  For each funding pot the government provides guidance and some criteria.  Each council must set out their own local scheme, this means that each council is likely to offer a slightly different scheme.

Local Restrictions Support Grant (Open)

These grants are not available during periods of National Lockdown or when businesses are mandated to close.  Grants are currently available for the period 2 to 19 December.

The following businesses are eligible:

Recipients of Additional Restrictions Grants for the National Lockdown commencing 5 November who satisfy the following criteria:

  • Ratepayers with a business that has not been mandated to close which are in the supply chain to the hospitality and leisure sector, travel, holiday and airline sector, or cultural, arts and tourism sector
  • Businesses that share rated premises, but are not the ratepayer, where the business is in the supply chain to the hospitality and leisure sector, travel, holiday and airline sector, or cultural, arts and tourism sector
  • Council Tax payers operating a business from home that has not been mandated to close and is in the supply chain to the hospitality and leisure sector, travel, holiday and airline sector, or cultural, arts and tourism sector

Recipients of Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) Addendum for the National Lockdown commencing 5 November who satisfy the following criteria:

  • hospitality - including public houses, bars, restaurants and cafés
  • hotels and bed & breakfasts
  • leisure - including sports venues, cinemas, entertainment venues including public halls

As recipients would have been in receipt of a grant for Lockdown 2 we intend to email those who we believe are eligible as soon as is practicable. 

 Read the full details of the scheme here [234.17KB]

Additional Restrictions Grant Fund Discretionary Help

Please note we are considering what additional help we can provide from these funds, and businesses should check this page periodically for updates, or additional schemes.

Ongoing Support

We are still providing help to businesses for the period 5 November 2020 to 31 March 2021.  However we have reviewed the scheme in the light of the governments roadmap and are providing ARG Restart Support Grants 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021.  The ARG Restart Support Grant are available to businesses already in receipt of support for the period ending 31 March 2021.  Additionally the following businesses can apply for an ARG Restart Support Grant

Businesses in the following sectors whether run from non-domestic or domestic premises

  • group travel and tour operators
  • breweries
  • English language schools
  • personal care businesses (a business which provides a service, treatment or activity for the purposes of personal beauty, hair, grooming, body care and aesthetics, and wellbeing.) 
  • personal fitness trainers
  • training and education where it is essential that the trainee is present due to the practical nature of the training and the need for specialist equipment (for example car mechanics).  Excluded from this category is any form of state education.
  • wraparound childcare providers
  • wholesalers, where they predominantly supply businesses mandated to close during Lockdown 3.

Icon for pdf Read the full details of the scheme as at 16 April 2021.  [103.95KB]

Please note we are considering what additional help we can provide from these funds, and businesses should check this page periodically for updates, or additional schemes.

Applications

We have emailed current recipients of ARG Grants about the ARG Restart Support Grants. New applicants should complete the Discretionary Grant Application form.  For simplicity and speed we have made minimal changes to the application form.  Once we have your application we will send you an email of additional questions and declarations to complete the application process.

Applicants need to give:

  • references from their rate demand (or for businesses run from home their Council Tax bill), or details of the ratepayer (where premises are shared)
  • confirmation of the proportion of a shared property that is occupied by the business
  • proof of rent and service charges where a proper is share, or there is no rateable value
  • where the business is part of a supply chain an explanation of which supply chain and how this affects the business 
  • an image of their bank account, showing account name, number and sort code
  • their company number, charity number and VAT registration number if they apply
  • information on any funds received through state aid or a declaration that the level of funds received does not exceed the limits

Apply for Additional Restrictions Grant Fund

Discretionary Hardship Scheme for Business 

Guildford Borough Council Discretionary COVID Hardship Scheme for Business

The Council published details of a new scheme on the 8 February 2021. This scheme has been introduced to support businesses who have been severely impacted by Covid-19 since the Lockdown and other restrictions since 5 November 2020, but who have not been eligible for either the LRSG or ARG schemes. The scheme is now closed. We aim to make decisions on grant awards by 1 March 2021.


Expanded Retail and Nursery Discounts for 2021

We applied discounts to all the accounts that we could identify for 2020.  In 2020-21 the discount was 100%. 

For 2021 the discount is 100% from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021 and 66% from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022. 

Key points to note

  • A business can opt out of the discount for 2021.  Once opted out they cannot then opt back in.
  • The 66% reduction is subject to a cash cap
  • As permitted by the government we have rolled the 100% discount forward, and a revised rate demand will be issued in June to reduce the discount to 66%.  The remaining charge will be payable over the remaining instalments for 2021-22 at the point that the revised demand is issued.
  • All current recipients of the discounts received a letter with their rate demand dated 15 March 2021 explaining the rule changes and the action that they may need to take.

Read more about the  expanded retail discount [115.85KB] and  nursery discount [107.72KB]


Other difficulties

We are dealing with other difficulties experienced by ratepayers on a case-by-case basis as the impact is not uniform.  Please email BRates@guildford.gov.uk, putting DIFFICULTIES and your payer reference in the subject line.  Please explain your specific difficulties, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Thank you

We have received an extraordinary number of enquiries in recent months.  As a result, we have not always been able to respond as quickly as we would like.  We would like to thank you for your patience during this time.