Covid-19 Rates Grant Scheme
The details of the scheme are here:
The Scheme: Business Support Grant Funding
Guidance: Guidance to Local Authorities
Charity Tax Group Overview of the Discretionary Scheme
Notes: There are two different funds, the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Fund (RHLF). Somewhat unhelpfully the guidance for both is in one document which I think has led to some of the confusion.
The guidance says “Under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG) eligible businesses in England in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for a cash grants of £10,000 or £25,000 per property.” And the guidance explicitly includes charities that meet this eligibility criteria. So if you qualify, you should be getting this grant. As examples: sports clubs or grounds, public halls, museums and art galleries are all included – and importantly, there’s an element of discretion on the LA’s part, which may mean that not all parts of the country get treated the same way. The guidance includes the phrase ‘places of public gathering’. In some parts of the country the LA has said that “…may have an opportunity to access the Government Business Grant Support for your community facility that has areas for community or public use. This may enable you to access £10K grant based on “place of assembly”.”
Find your rateable value here.
HOWEVER: the SBGF, which gives grants of £10,000 to eligible businesses, is only available to business in receipt of either Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rates Relief. Any organisation claiming Charitable Rates Relief, even if you would be eligible for one of the other reliefs, is explicitly and definitively excluded. And there is no discretion available to the LAs to interpret that.
It is worth lodging an application if your rateable value is less than £51,000 and you think you meet the ‘places of public gathering’ criteria. State that you believe that having areas for community or public use satisfies the criteria. For example: a community centre with a rateable value of £18,000 and a hall used for public gatherings would meet the criteria on this basis.
Example: Community Organisations X is awarded £10,000 Business Grant by the Council, under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure section. This is because they operate a Community/Training Room which is liable for Business Rates (which gets relief from), and prior to lockdown had members of the public coming in to the room (part of a larger office building) for meetings and training.
2nd Scheme: Top up to Local Business Grants Scheme
Notes: “This additional fund of £617m will be distributed via local authorities. It is aimed at small businesses – and charities – with ongoing fixed property-related costs.
‘Discretionary’ is a key issue. Local authorities are being asked by the Government to include priority for small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief. However local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses, based on local economic need. The allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities.
To qualify, organisations must have fewer than 50 employees, and be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to coronavirus restriction measures.
There will be three levels of grant payments. The maximum will be £25,000. There will also be grants of £10,000. Local authorities will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. The Government says it will be for councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances.”
From the official guidance: “We are asking local authorities to prioritise … small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief … But local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need. The allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities.
Businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to Coronavirus restriction measures.”
“The maximum will be £25,000. There will also be grants of £10,000. local authorities will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. It will be for councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances.“