Support for Business – what we know so far

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As we have said before in previous updates, in times like these, we cannot emphasise enough the importance of communication. We have a specific focus on maintaining effective communication with our clients, and all in Cornwall, getting information to you that will help you and your business in these uncertain times.

We are committed to attempting to disseminate information and advice as soon as more information is released from government.

Announcements have slowed in recent days, however, more detail is being released from government in relation to the previous headline announcements.

Understandably, we have been receiving a lot of queries from clients as to how the various business support measures will apply in practice, and whilst able to provide our thoughts, we have had limited information to provide definitive answers. We will therefore update you as and when this detail/guidance is released.

Business rates holiday

Further guidance has been released on the business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses, see here.

This guidance suggests that many more businesses than previously envisaged will qualify for the business rates holiday. To quote the guidance, examples of the businesses that will qualify are:

  • Shops (such as: florists, bakers, butchers, grocers, greengrocers, jewellers, stationers, off licences, chemists, newsagents, hardware stores, supermarkets, etc)
  • Charity shops
  • Opticians
  • Post offices
  • Furnishing shops/ display rooms (such as: carpet shops, double glazing, garage doors)
  • Car/caravan show rooms
  • Second-hand car lots
  • Markets
  • Petrol stations
  • Garden centres
  • Art galleries (where art is for sale/hire)
  • 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
  • Restaurants
  • Takeaways
  • Sandwich shops
  • Coffee shops
  • Pubs
  • Bars
  • Cinemas
  • Live music venues (there is a definition in the guidance here that should be considered)
  • 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
  • Public halls
  • Clubhouses, clubs and institutions
  • Hotels, Guest and Boarding Houses
  • Holiday homes
  • Caravan parks and sites

The guidance states that “the list set out above is not intended to be exhaustive as it would be impossible to list the many and varied uses that exist within the qualifying purposes. There will also be mixed uses. However, it is intended to be a guide for authorities as to the types of uses that the Government considers for this purpose to be eligible for relief. Authorities should determine for themselves whether particular properties not listed are broadly similar in nature to those above and, if so, to consider them eligible for the relief. Conversely, properties that are not broadly similar in nature to those listed above should not be eligible for the relief.”

It goes on to refer to some businesses that won’t qualify, these being:

  • Financial services (e.g. banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, short-term loan providers)
  • Medical services (e.g. vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors)
  • Professional services (e.g. solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/financial advisers)
  • Post office sorting offices

As well as anywhere “not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public”.

There is no application process. Qualifying businesses should receive the benefit of the holiday on their council tax bill, or a reissued bill if one has already been issued.

Cash grants

Further guidance has also been released on the cash grants for business that qualify for the small business rate relief (called the ‘Small Business Grant Fund’) and the cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses (called the ‘Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant’). This guidance can be found here.

The ‘Small Business Grant Fund’ is to apply to businesses that qualify for small business rate relief (SBBR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will be in the form of a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses.

Crucially, the guidance suggests that the eligibility for the ‘Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant’ is aligned with the eligibility for the business rates holiday. Therefore, the seemingly wide scope (wider than we originally thought) of businesses eligible for the business-rate holiday (see above), will also be eligible for the cash grant.

For qualifying businesses with a rateable value of under £15,000, they will receive a grant of £10,000, and those with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, they will receive a grant of £25,000.

Businesses will receive one grant per qualifying property.

Again, there is no application process for the grants, the relevant local authority will write to qualifying businesses.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

We are still awaiting the detailed guidance on the scheme, however, two popular questions appear to have been answered in recent days.

Please see our article on our website here to find out more.

The ICAEW have released a very useful summary of the Scheme, which can be found here.

Companies House

Companies House have confirmed that companies can apply for a 3 month filing extension.

Please see our article on our website here.

Measures for the self-employed

We are expecting announcements today, and will send a further update when we know more about these much-needed measures.