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COVID-19 Assistance Relief Fund (CARF)

On 25 March 2021, the Government announced plans to provide an additional business rates support package, worth £1.5 billion, to support businesses in England affected by COVID-19 but not eligible for existing support linked to business rates. Harrow Council has received £3,172,759 in funding.

As this is a temporary relief fund for 2021/22 (i.e. it is not for the current year 22/23), the Government is not changing legislation relating to Business Rates relief available to properties. Instead, the Government will, in line with the eligibility criteria, reimburse Local Authorities where relief is granted using discretionary powers under Section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1998.

Although the Government has set some national criteria, it recognises that economic need will vary across the country, so wants Local Authorities to exercise their local knowledge and discretion to design a discretionary scheme to operate in its area. Harrow Council has therefore determined the following CARF policy to be applicable to its scheme.

Applications

An application must be received for each property that a business wishes to be considered for entitlement to the relief hereditament during the period 1st July 2022 and 12th August 2022 inclusive.  Applications shall be accepted from Business Ratepayers or their nominated representative only.

A Business Ratepayer must be able to demonstrate that they have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and been unable to adequately adapt to that impact.  To that extent, businesses shall be required to provide a statement and any supporting evidence demonstrating how it has been adversely affected by the pandemic and why it has been unable to adapt adequately to the impact.

Applications have now closed.

Amount of award if eligible

If eligible, the amount of relief awarded will be set according to  Section 6 of the Harrow CARF scheme policy.

How the award is paid

All awards of relief will be by a credit against the Business Rates bill. No cash or BACS payments for any amount awarded shall be made.  If a business has paid its Business Rates and subsequently has a credit balance on its account due to the awarding of a reduction under the CARF scheme, the credit will in the first instance, be allocated to the 2022/23 Business Rates or any arrears liability. If there are no arrears, it may be refunded if an application for that purpose is received. To request a refund see Business Rates Refunds.

Appeals

There is no statutory right of appeal against a decision made by the Council in respect of discretionary retail discount.  However, Harrow will review its decision if a Business Ratepayer is dissatisfied with the outcome and a request is received in writing (including email) within 28 days of notification of the decision. A request for a review should be emailed with the subject heading “CARF Scheme Review Request” to  support4business@harrow.gov.uk

Consideration may be given to an extension of that timescale where reasonable and extenuating circumstances apply, subject at all times to the 30th September 2022 "cut-off" date referred to in the Harrow CARF Scheme policy.


UK - EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement

The CARF scheme is subject to the subsidies chapter within the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). However, for CARF 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.

Therefore, to be awarded CARF, 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: COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF): local authority guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

In your application for CARF 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, confirmation of this in your application, or,
  • if you have received other such subsidies, then you should provide the name and total value of those subsidies. 

You must not apply for CARF using this form if you have already exceeded the £2,243,000 allowance.

However, we will still consider applications for support under the CARF 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. 

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).