We are getting to the nitty gritty, aren’t we?
We have had the breaths of relief as various financial support packages were announced by Chancellor Rishi….
We have had the ‘Hmmmm, I wonder how this will work?’….
Now, RIGHT NOW, as our brains are turning to the end of month liabilities any business has, such as paying staff, suppliers and rent, we are starting to say:
‘So, where IS the dosh?’
Where I am seeing this most is with small businesses who rent a smaller part of a larger building, in either serviced offices, workshops or storage space. When the support of the Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) grant of £10,000 was first announced, many of these businesses would have thought
‘Phew-weeeeee, thank goodness, something for my business to claim’
However, it turns out, not so simple.
Many serviced office, workshops or storage spaces, are, as you would expect, small (that is the attraction of them after all, small = affordable)… They are also part of a larger building….
Some of them also pay their rates direct to the landlord, either separately, or included in their overall monthly rental price. Key word there? LANDLORD. No mention of the BILLING AUTHORITY.
And there, friends, lies the problem…….
In the ‘Grant Funding Schemes – Small Business Grant Fund / Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund – Guidance for business’ document, published by the Government in March, it is quite clear who will will receive ANY of the rates relief Corona grants.
From their own sweet mouth:
“Who will receive this funding?
21. The person who according to the billing authority’s records was the ratepayer for the property on the 11 March 2020.”
Putting it simply? If the landlord is the ratepayer, they are the grant receiver.
All is lost? Not really…. Possibly not…. Maybe not… If you have your boxing gloves on and are in for the long haul…
This same guidance, the same section, it does go on:
“22. Where the Local Authority has reason to believe that the information that they hold about the ratepayer on the 11 March 2020 is inaccurate they may withhold or recover the grant and take reasonable steps to identify the correct ratepayer. The grant is for the ratepayer and any money paid may be liable for recovery if the recipient was not the ratepayer on the eligible day.
23. Landlord and management agents are urged to support local government in quickly identifying the correct ratepayer. “
Translation: if you believe you have a case where you can prove you are the actual ratepayer, then tackle your billing authority….. Perhaps good to speak to your landlord first though…..
There is also the angle to consider of the LARGER building from which the SMALLER spaces are rented out… If it is the LARGER building that is listed as the property for rates, then it is UNLIKELY that the larger building will have a rateable value UNDER the £15,000……
What does this mean? Rateable value larger than £15,000 = no £10,000 grant.
So, what can you do?
1. Familiarise yourself with the guidance. Light read it ain’t, but it is where all of the operational implementation will be taken from, so if you are in the know, you are armed.
The link to the full guidance is below:
2. Check whether your business premises is listed as an individual smaller business property with the billing authority (and therefore possibly eligible for the SBRR grant) or whether it is the larger building you occupy that is listed…. Do this by using the link below to the rates valuation webs page:
3. OPEN COMMUNICATIONS and give your landlord the BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT…
They are navigating this thorny minefield as much as the next person, and most probably, in the ideal world would love to see all of their small business tenants receiving £10k (after all, you stay in business = they get rent)… Find out what the situation is with the rates before heading off to the billing authority, see if you can WORK TOGETHER on this.
4. FINALLY, approach your situation with RESOLVE and PERSEVERANCE.. Nothing with any local billing authority gets resolved quickly, even in ‘normal’ times. So, at the moment? With a tonne of extra ‘Corona’ work to get through? Expect it to take a little longer……
For example, my partner’s business received his letter last week from his billing authority, for which I completed the online registration form straight away. We received a confirmation email for the submission and since then…… SWEET FA…
Now I am not saying that from a derogatory sense, I get it, I get the delay, but quick it ain’t for getting the grant. And his business IS the rate payer. It DOES have a rateable value of £12k and DOES gets full SBRR.
So, if you are raising a less than easy query to resolve, then expect, possibly, a delay in response.
Stick with it people, hold your resolve, we WILL see the other side.
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