In March 2021, the Government announced a new COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund. The relief is for businesses who were not eligible for the previous financial support linked to business rates. This includes retail, leisure and hospitality reliefs.
Wirral’s share of the fund is £4.389 million. The scheme will apply to the 2021/2022 rating year only.
The relief is for ratepayers who have been negatively affected by the pandemic, and have been unable to adapt.
The fund replaces the right to request a reduction in Business Rates from the Valuation Office Agency. This is on the grounds that COVID-19 has been a material change in circumstances, which make the rateable value of the property inaccurate.
The COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund is a discretionary award. Wirral has used the government guidance to design a local scheme to distribute the funds. It will support businesses affected during 2021/2022.
Businesses that are not eligible
Government guidelines state that the following businesses will not be eligible for this relief:
- from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022, business that 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)
- unoccupied premises, unless they become unoccupied temporarily due to the government’s advice on COVID-19
- should direct their support towards ratepayers who have been adversely affected by the pandemic (in a way that prevents success or development; harmfully or unfavourably) and have been unable to adequately adapt to that impact
- ratepayers who have exceeded the subsidy control limits
- local authorities may not grant the discount to themselves or to an authority financed by Business Rates, such as the police or a fire and rescue service
Within the Liverpool City Region, the following types of business are also not eligible:
- business properties which do not directly employ anyone, for example, parking spaces, advertising rights
- any business which cannot show that it has been significantly impacted by the pandemic
- public sector organisations which are funded by government grant
- businesses associated with gambling, such as casinos and betting shops
- business premises used for personal use or storage only that are not considered to be trading
- banking and other financial institutions
- businesses that are predominantly online
- businesses which only supply storage facilities, such as warehouses
The scheme will provide the maximum support to businesses whose main trading address is within Wirral Council area. This will provide valuable extra assistance to businesses in the Wirral. It will protect jobs and enable businesses to continue trading.
- the applicant must be the registered ratepayer of the premises for which the application is made and occupying the property in the Wirral Council area during the financial year 2021/22
- the premises must have been occupied from April 2021 and not have been unoccupied during the financial year 2021/2022, unless required to close under COVID-19 restrictions
- the business must not be in one of the identified sectors which either from the government guidance or local conditions would not be considered for an award
How to apply
Businesses will need to complete an application form in order to be eligible for the relief. The application form will request sufficient information for a decision to be made on the relief to be granted which will include the following information requirements:
- the name of the business rate payer
- the business address
- the rateable value of the business
- number of employees
- percentage adverse effect of the pandemic on income for 2021/2022
- accounts that show the adverse effect
Applicants will also need to confirm they have not exceeded subsidy limits.
The deadline for applications is 31 August 2022.
Amount of the award (subject to ongoing modelling)
The relief is a cash limited award. It can only be applied to Business rates accounts for the financial year 2021/2022.
The total amount received by Wirral Council is £4.389 million. The total value of the relief granted cannot exceed this figure.
The award will be specifically, but not solely, targeted at small businesses, and subject to the overall funding available. The value of the awards will initially be:
- where the rateable value is £51,000 or below: 100% of net liability after the application of all other reliefs
- where the rateable value is £51,001 to £100,000: 75% of the net value outstanding after the application of other reliefs to a maximum value of £50,000
- where the rateable value is above £100,000: 50% of the net value outstanding after the application of other reliefs to a maximum of £50,000
Businesses with a rateable value in excess of £51,000, who do not automatically receive 100% relief may request further relief. This will be considered on a case-by-case basis. This will be based on:
- the available funding
- the business sector
- the impact of COVID-19 on the business
The above maximum relief values may be amended. This depends on the number of eligible applications received and the remaining funds available.