The following guidance and support in making a claim for the COVID-19 Business Grant Funding Schemes being administered by Wirral Council covers:

  • Small Business Grant Fund;
  • Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund

Find out more about the Discretionary Fund, launched on 5 June

Will the Council send a letter inviting me to make a claim?

Given the current situation, we are communicating with businesses electronically in the first instance as we recognise that business owners may not be able to pick up mail from their registered premises due to public health guidelines.

An online claim form has been available since Monday 30th March on the Wirral Council website.

Look out for emails from us (if you’ve previously registered for an online business rates account); check our website and our social media channels for updates.

The council will also be sending a letter to the person who, according to our records, was the ratepayer on 11th March 2020, however you do not need to wait for this letter in order to make a claim. If you already have your Business Rates Reference Number to hand, this will speed up your ability to make a claim.

I have a query about my Business Rates Reference Number 

I don’t know my Business Rates Reference Number. Where can I find it?

To claim a grant you will need your Business Rates Reference Number. Ratepayers will have received their 2020/21 Business Rates bill around 1st March 2020 (some businesses will have been subsequently issued a revised bill in response to business rates relief that has been made available). The Business Rates Reference Number is located at the top right-hand side of the letter.

What if I can’t find my Business Rates bill?  

Please try to locate your bill or Business Rates Reference Number before contacting the Council as our resources are stretched. If you cannot locate it, send an email to brgrants@wirral.gov.uk and include:

  • your name
  • the name of the business
  • business address
  • telephone number (business number and an appropriate contact number at present where appropriate)

You will be called back by one of our advisors who will ask you some security questions. Your Business Rates Reference number will be released when all the verification checks have been completed. Contacting us in this way will delay our ability to pay you, so we urge you to attempt to locate your reference number before contacting us, as we want to make payments as swiftly as possible.

I don’t pay Business Rates directly, my landlord or managing agent is liable for paying rates for the premises where my business is located. Can I still apply?

The Government has confirmed that it is only the person who, according to the Council’s records, was the ratepayer in respect of the business premises (hereditament) on the 11 March 2020 who is eligible to claim grant funding.

This means that only businesses with their own assessment for business rates and eligible for Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR), rural or Expanded Retail Discount with a rateable value below £51,000 will be eligible for grant funding. Businesses which are not ratepayers are not eligible.

We understand for some shared space/service offices, individual users do have their own rating assessment and may be eligible. In these cases landlords are encouraged to support local government in ensuring the grant reaches eligible ratepayers. 

I have entered my Business Rates Reference Number but the form says that an application has already been made?

Each premises (hereditament) will have separate, unique Business Rates Reference Numbers. Please check your correspondence and bills to ensure you have not entered the same number for more than one property. If you are still experiencing problems then please call the Covid-19 Business Grant Funding Helpline.

I am a new business or registered as the ratepayer on or before 11 March 2020 and I have not yet received a letter or bill for the premises. What can I do?

Contact us by email at brgrants@wirral.gov.uk and we will check for any recent correspondence received from you and update our database. We will explain next steps to you.

How do I know if I’m eligible for a grant?

Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF)

Am I eligible?

You may be eligible to receive a one-off grant of £10,000 to help you meet your on-going costs if:

  1. Your business is based in England AND;
  2. You are the ratepayer
  3. You are a small business (as defined) with premises which on 11th March 2020 were eligible for Small Business Rate Relief and/or Rural Rate Relief*, and
  4. Your business was not in liquidation or dissolved as of 11th March 2020
  5. You have not already made a claim for, and received funding from, the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund.
  6. The hereditament is not occupied for personal use. Examples of where there may be personal use include private stables and loose boxes, beach huts and moorings.

Car parks and parking spaces are excluded from the grant scheme.

*Check your latest bill (original 2020/21 bills were sent around 1st March 2020) to see if you were eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rates Relief.

Eligible businesses are only entitled to claim from either the Small Business Grant Fund OR the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund – this is determined by Businesses that were in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief as of 11 March will be eligible for the Small Business Grants Fund and for the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Grants Fund, businesses that would have been in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount Scheme with properties that have a rateable value of under £51,000 are eligible (see the RHLG section for details).

What will I get?

Eligible businesses will receive a £10,000 grant for each hereditament (this means one grant for each occupied and rateable premises).

How do I access it?

An online claim form is available on the Wirral Council website www.wirral.gov.uk. Information is available on the council website and social media channels relating to the process.

Start a claim for a business grant

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG)

Am I eligible?

If you are in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors (as defined*) with a rateable value of less than £51,000 then you may be eligible. The following qualifying criteria also apply:

  1. Your business must be based in England
  2. You are the ratepayer
  3. Your property is wholly or mainly being used:
  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • for assembly and leisure
  • as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation
  1. Your business was not in liquidation or dissolved as of 11th March 2020
  2. You have not already made a claim for, and received funding from, the Small Business Grant Fund.
  3. The hereditament is not occupied for personal use. Examples of where there may be personal use include private stables and loose boxes, beach huts and moorings.

Car parks and parking spaces are excluded from the grant scheme.

Eligible businesses are only entitled to claim from either the Small Business Grant Fund OR the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund – this is determined by Businesses that were in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief as of 11 March will be eligible for the Small Business Grants Fund (see the SBGF section for details) and for the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Grants Fund, businesses that would have been in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount Scheme with properties that have a rateable value of under £51,000 are eligible.

What will I get?

  • Eligible business with a Rateable Value of up to and including £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000 for each hereditament.
  • Eligible businesses with a Rateable Value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a one-off grant of £25,000 for each hereditament.

Hereditaments that have a rateable value of £51,000 or more are not eligible for this scheme.

A hereditament is defined as occupied and rateable premises.

If you are the ratepayer for more than one premises you can claim a grant for each occupied and rateable premises under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure scheme subject to receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount Scheme.

How do I access it?

An online claim form is available on the Wirral Council website. Information is available on the Council website and social media channels relating to the process.

Start a claim for a business grant

How do I know if my business activity is considered eligible for the grant?

Businesses that qualify for the Expanded Retail Discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for a grant. In accordance with Government guidance, occupied premises in the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure sectors are defined as those that are wholly or mainly being used:

  • as Shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues,  
  • for assembly and leisure; or 
  • as Hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation. 

The Government considers shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues to mean:

Hereditaments (occupied and rateable premises) that are being used for the sale of goods to visiting members of the public including:

  • shops (such as a florist, baker, butcher, grocer, greengrocer, jeweller, stationer, off licence, chemist, newsagent, hardware store, supermarket, etc), Charity shops, Opticians, Post offices, Furnishing shops/ display rooms (such as carpet shops, double glazing, garage doors), Car/caravan showrooms, Second-hand car lots, Markets, Petrol stations, Garden centres, Art galleries (where art is for sale/hire).

Hereditaments that are being used for the provision of the following services to visiting members of the public:

  • hair and beauty services (such as: hairdressers, nail bars, beauty salons, tanning shops, etc); Shoe repairs/key cutting; Travel agents; Ticket offices e.g. for theatre; Dry cleaners; Launderettes;  PC/TV/domestic appliance repair; Funeral directors; Photo processing; Tool hire; Car hire;  Employment agencies; Estate agents and letting agents; Betting shops;

Hereditaments that are being used for the sale of food and/or drink to visiting members of the public:

  • Restaurants; Takeaways; Sandwich shops; Coffee shops; Pubs; Bars;

Hereditaments which are being used as cinemas

Hereditaments that are being used as live music venues (further definitions apply).

The Government considers assembly and leisure to mean:

Hereditaments that are being used for the provision of sport, leisure and facilities to visiting members of the public (including for the viewing of such activities).

  • Sports grounds and clubs; Museums and art galleries; Nightclubs; Sport and leisure facilities; Stately homes and historic houses; Theatres; Tourist attractions; Gyms; Wellness centres, spas, massage parlours; Casinos, gambling clubs and bingo halls;

Hereditaments that are being used for the assembly of visiting members of the public.

  • Public halls; Clubhouses, clubs and institutions

The Government considers hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation to mean:

Hereditaments where the non-domestic part is being used for the provision of living accommodation as a business:

  • Hotels, Guest and Boarding Houses; Holiday homes; Caravan parks and sites

The hereditament (premises) should be wholly or mainly being used for the above qualifying purposes.

For the avoidance of doubt, premises which have closed temporarily due to the government’s advice on COVID19 will be treated as occupied for the purposes of this scheme. 

Additional Guidance on eligibility

It sometimes might not be clear for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure businesses that receive Small Business Retail Relief whether they fall into the ‘Small Business Grants’ category or the ‘Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Scheme’.

Any properties falling within both the Small Business Rate Relief and Expanded Retail eligibility would be entitled to one £10,000 grant. Businesses cannot be awarded both grants on the same property, in accordance with government policy. It therefore does not make any difference to the grant payment which category a business applies under.

How can I find out how my business is classified?

Classification is determined by the Valuation Office Agency (an executive agency of HMRC) at the time that the Rateable Value of the premises is determined. The classification of your business is included in your Business Rates bill. Original 2020/21 bills were sent to you around 1st March 2020.  

I have made a claim for a grant but it has been rejected on the grounds of ineligible use. However, I believe my premises meets the definition of Retail, Hospitality or Leisure.

If you think your business has an incorrect use classification on our records, you will need to contact us and request a decision review (you will have received an email with details of how to contact us).  If the classification has changed over time, for example, the use information held on Council records is different to your business use now, then re-assessment can be carried out as part of the review process.

Do businesses who do not pay business rates such as those operating out of Business Centres or Enterprise Zones qualify for Cash Grants?  

If a business is not registered for business rates, they will not qualify for funding through these schemes in accordance with current government guidelines.

How does this funding work with shared space orserviced offices, where tenants are not the rate payers?

Only businesses with their own assessment for business rates and eligible for SBRR, rural rate relief or Expanded Retail Discount with a rateable value below £51,000 will be eligible for the grant. Businesses which are not ratepayers are not eligible.  

We understand for some shared space or service offices, individual users do have their own rating assessment and may be eligible. In these cases we encourage landlords to support local government in ensuring the grant reaches eligible ratepayers.

Can businesses like B&Bs operating with domestic rates (Council Tax) still be eligible for the grant?

No – only properties in the rating list are eligible.   

Are Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) that are eligible for Marginal Rate Relief and the Extended Retail Relief (as a leisure provider) entitled to the second scheme?

If they would have been eligible for the Expanded Retail Scheme on 11 March then they qualify. Properties that had rate discounts increased to 100% using local discretion on 11 March still qualify for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grant. The same principle applies with charity shops.

There has been a relaxation in the rate relief rules to include estate agents, letting agencies and bingo halls. Are they included in the grant scheme for retail, leisure, and hospitality businesses as well or just rate relief?

All businesses that were in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief on 11 March are eligible for the grant under the Small Business Grant Fund, regardless of the sector they are in.  

The Extended Retail Relief Scheme has been extended to also cover bingo halls, estate agents and letting agencies. This will now bring bingo halls, estate agents and letting agencies in hereditaments with a rateable value of under £51,000 in scope of the grant. Any properties falling within both the Small Business Rate Relief and Expanded Retail eligibility should be awarded one £10k grant. Businesses cannot be awarded both grants on the same property.

Are charities eligible for the grant schemes?

Charities receiving Charitable Rate Relief are not eligible for Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief and therefore are not eligible under the Small Business Grants Fund.

Charities may be eligible under the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Grants Fund. 

Where can I find the Rateable Value of my premises?

You can find out the Rateable Value of your premises by checking your latest Business Rates bill or on the Valuation Office Agency wesite. ‘Rateable value’ is set by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and is used by the Council to calculate your business rates bill.

Are there any conditions attached to the Funding?

Yes. Any business who accepts this funding must confirm they comply with all the applicable State aid requirements. Businesses who accept this funding must also provide information requested by the Local Authority to support monitoring and assurance.

What is State aid?

State aid is any advantage granted by public authorities through state resources on a selective basis to any organisations that could potentially distort competition and trade in the European Union (EU).

The definition of state aid is very broad because ‘an advantage’ can take many forms. It is anything which an undertaking (an organisation engaged in economic activity) could not get on the open market.

Examples of state aid are grants, loans and tax breaks for purposes such as training and purchase of equipment. Business Rates relief is also considered to be State aid.

Are these schemes considered to be State aid? 

Yes. State aid applies to these schemes, and all recipients are required to comply with the maximum permitted funding under the relevant State aid rules – EUR 200,000 over three years under the De Minimis Regulation, or EUR 800,000 under the COVID-19 Temporary Framework scheme for the UK (different thresholds apply to agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture business). 

Grants provided under the Small Business Grant Fund can be made under either the De Minimis Regulation (where the relevant conditions are met), or under the COVID-19 Temporary Framework scheme for the UK (once approved) where for example, the De Minimis threshold has been reached. Grants paid under the Retail Hospitality and Leisure scheme can be made under the COVID-19 Temporary Framework scheme for the UK (once approved).

What if accepting a grant would take my business above the State aid limit?

Where a business has multiple eligible properties under the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Scheme, they may reach the State aid limit. The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Scheme grant conditions require businesses not to exceed the maximum permitted funding limits. 

What checks are councils expected to make regarding State aid? 

Businesses will be required to confirm that they comply with the scheme conditions, for example that they have not received more than the maximum permitted funding for State aid. The Council will ask you to make a declaration about this as part of the application process. Local Authorities will write to businesses to ask for confirmation of this. 

How will support to national retailers work on a practical level given the numbers of properties?

State aid applies to this scheme, and national retailers would be required not to accept more than the maximum permitted funding.

How will I know if have received State aid in the past?

You will have received a statement or letter from the provider who offered you the support. Please look through your records.

Will these grant schemes be subject to tax?

Grant income received by a business is taxable therefore the Small Business Grants, and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants will be subject to tax. Only businesses which make an overall profit once grant income is included will be subject to tax.

I need help with the claim form

What bank statement information do I need to provide?

Please upload a recent bank statement (last 3 months) that clearly shows the account holder name, account number and sort code. 

If you are an incorporated company (for example a limited company), you must provide bank account details for the business bank account associated with your company.  You must provide a business bank statement as supporting evidence to match the bank account details you would like the grant to be paid into.

What documents can I upload as proof of trading?

There are a number of ways that you can prove that your business was active as of the 11th March 2020. Examples of evidence that can be uploaded are:

  • utility and mobile phone bills linked to the business;
  • a screen shot of your online banking showing activity up to and including 11th March 2020 if a statement is not yet available;
  • pdfs downloaded from your online bank account,
  • invoices;

If you do not have electronic copies of these documents, then a photograph of the paper document, uploaded to us will suffice. When photographing documents please use the close-up (macro) setting on your phone or camera, and make sure the document is well lit with no shadows on it. Please make sure the image is clear and in focus.

Local Authorities have discretion to request further information to verify the details businesses have provided.

Is there a maximum file size for documents when uploading?

Maximum file size is 5MB per uploaded document.

I have multiple premises/hereditaments, how do I submit a claim for all my premises?

A separate claim must be made for each premises/hereditament. Make sure you use a separate Business Rates Reference Number for each claim. You will have received a separate bill for each of your premises. Refer to each bill or other correspondence from us to find the unique Business Rates Reference Number.

What is the deadline for making a claim for a grant?

The government has not yet set a closing date for the schemes. Claims will be accepted on an ongoing basis. We will update the website with detail of the closing date once the government has announced it.

I am struggling to fill in the form. Can someone help me?

If you can, ask a family member or friend to help you fill in the claim form in the first instance. 

Please review all of the information contained on this web page, you may find the answer here.

Alternatively, you can call the Covid-19 Business Grant Funding Helpline on 0151 650 6982 or 0151 666 4100 and an advisor will be able to help you with any queries. However, please be aware that lines are extremely busy as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic crisis. If you can find help from a friend or family member in the first instance that will enable us to prioritise our resources and focus on those who most need our support. Please only contact us if you are really stuck.

I don’t have access to the internet and cannot fill in the form online. Can I still make an application?

If you can find help from a friend or family member in the first instance, doing so will enable us to prioritise our resources and focus on those who most need our support. Please only contact us if you are really stuck.

I have made a mistake on my claim form, what can I do?

Contact us by email at brgrants@wirral.gov.uk and we will try to rectify the error.

When emailing us, please include your:

  • Business rates account number (9 digits starting with number 7)
  • claim reference number (you’ll find this in your acknowledgement email)
  • business name, address and postcode
  • contact phone number

Can I make the application myself or do I need to use an agent?

The online application form is straight forward and has been designed for the rate payer/business owner to make the application. You do not need to use a third-party broker or agent to apply on your behalf.

What if I don’t agree with the decision?

Is there an appeal process if I don’t agree with the decision?

Yes. Businesses whose claims are unsuccessful will be given the opportunity for the decision to be reviewed. If your claim is rejected, then you will receive an email setting out the next steps to take. 

Who has set the rules?

Two business grant schemes, the Small Business Grants Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund, were announced by the government on 11 March and 17 March 2020. Guidance on the two funding schemes has been published and updated on GOV.UK and businesssupport.gov.uk. 

This funding is being made available to help small, rural, retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with their ongoing business costs in recognition of the disruption caused by COVID-19. The government has asked Wirral Council to administer the grants to eligible business ratepayers in the borough. The eligibility criteria and guidance have been set by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.