We understand that many business owners will be worried about the impact Coronavirus (COVID-19) will have on the business community.
There will be concerns about what happens to business rate collections and what support will be offered from both the UK Government and Harrow Council.
The government has already introduced a raft of measures to support businesses experiencing financial disruptions.
We are working with the government to support these measures and are currently waiting on guidance on how some of these can be delivered by the council.
What are the measures?
- Increased business rates retail discount to 100% for businesses with no threshold on rateable value - expanded to leisure and hospitality sectors. All eligible businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure sectors won’t pay business rates for 12 months from 1 April 2020.
- If your last business rates demand had retail relief on it, and your 2020/21 recent demand shows that you need to pay the balance or 50% of the annual bill, this has now changed and you do not need to pay the first instalment in April.
- We’ll update your account and re-send the 2020/21 bill showing a zero balance to pay if you are eligible. We hope to do this before the May instalment.
- The exception of retail relief is only applicable if the business premises was occupied prior to 11th March 2020 (unless the unoccupied reason was linked to the Coronavirus threat. Please note that evidence may be requested.
- A business rates holiday for nurseries. That means non-local authority providers of childcare will pay no business rates in 2020-21 from 1 April so long as:
- the property used is occupied by providers on Ofsted's Early Years Register; and
- wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage.
- Planning rules are being relaxed to allow pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways.
- Pub Relief will be awarded - equivalent to a £5,000 discount off the 2020-21 business rates bill for pubs with a rateable value below £100,000
- Grants to Businesses – There will be flat rate grants of £10,000 grant to all small business in receipt of rate relief (around 1,900 in Harrow) and up to £25,000 grant for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
You may be contacted by the Council asking you for your business account details if we don’t already hold these. This is so that we can get this money to you quickly and safely through the BACS system. This will be done via a dedicated phone number so if you want to call back to verify it really is Harrow Council you will be able to do this. You may also get email requests asking for this information as well which again will be form a dedicated email account set up.
All other business rate payers (in non retail, leisure or hospitality services), you will need to continue to pay business rates as advised.
Here is a summary of support the government has announced, including those not delivered by the council.
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
- Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
- 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
- Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
- Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures
- A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms.
- All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service
- A new telephone helpline to support businesses and self-employed people who are concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus. Contact HMRC on 0800 0159 559
You will also note that the government ordered the closure of pubs, restaurants and all leisure venues from March 21st.
This has now been updated from 24th March 2020 to include all non essential business premises. It is now an offence if premises are still open and you could be fined.
Please continue to follow all advice from NHS to protect yourself and others. All the latest updates and information on Coronavirus can be found on the UK Government website.
Further guidance is available from ACAS and the GLA’s Growth Hub Information Portal.
Coronavirus business grants
The Government have set out a package of temporary measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
We have now set up online applications for:
- Small business grant fund
- Retail, hospitality and leisure grant fund.
To find out more and to apply, view our Coronavirus business grants page.