Samantha East

+44 (0)1733 887635 soeast@greenwoodsgrm.co.uk

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Property Focus: Business Rates Retail Discount Extended

Coronavirus / 27 March 2020

On 29 October 2018 the government announced in their Budget a Business Rates Retail Discount to apply in the years 2019/20 and 2020/21 for properties used as shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs with a rateable value up to £51,000.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Budget announced on 11 March 2020 increased the discount to 100% and extended it to include leisure and hospitality sectors for 2020/21.  On 23 March 2020 the country was put into lockdown in an effort to prevent further spread of the virus and many businesses deemed “non-essential” have been forced to close their doors.  Businesses that have been deemed essential include supermarkets and other food shops, pharmacies, vets, hardware stores, petrol stations, banks, post offices, laundrettes and premises hosting food banks or homeless services.  The restrictions are being monitored by local authorities’ environmental health and trading standards officers, with police support where appropriate.  Businesses and premises that breach the restrictions will be subject to prohibition notices.

Properties that will now benefit from the relief will be those hereditaments occupied wholly or mainly:

– as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues,
– for assembly and leisure, or
– as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.

A full breakdown as to which businesses fall within the above definitions can be found here.

In order to qualify for the relief, the property should be wholly or mainly used for one of the above qualifying purposes and will have closed temporarily due to the lockdown measures.  However, the above list is not exhaustive and there will also be cases of mixed-use buildings that have been affected.  Local Authorities will assess on a case-by-case basis and may determine whether or not a particular property is broadly similar and therefore eligible.  The discount will also be applied on a day-to-day basis and so properties that see a change of use during the period will be considered.  The total amount of relief available for each eligible property for 2020/21 under the scheme is 100% and ratepayers that occupy more than one property will be entitled to relief for each of their eligible properties.

The following properties will not be considered eligible for relief:

– Financial services (banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, short-term loan providers)
– Medical services (vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors)
– Professional services (solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/financial advisers)
– Post office sorting offices
– Buildings that are not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public

If you require assistance in understanding how the regulations affect your business or to discuss whether your business premises could be eligible for the relief, please contact us.

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