Insight

Guidance published sets out emergency relief for business rates

The guidance notes to local authorities have been released and set the parameters for relief from business rates. In quick summary:

  • The guidance applies to England only
  • The guidance sets out the criteria which central government considers for businesses to be eligible for the “Expanded Retail Discount”
  • The relief will apply to occupied retail, leisure and hospitality properties in the year 2020/21. There will be no rateable value limit on the relief.

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:

  • As shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • For assembly and leisure
  • For hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

Government considers shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues to mean:

  • Properties that are being used for the sale of goods to visiting members of the public: 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: hair dressers, 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

Government considers properties that are being used for the sale of food and/or drink to visiting members of the public to mean:

  • Restaurants
  • Takeaways
  • Sandwich shops
  • Coffee shops
  • Pubs
  • Bars

Government includes cinemas as qualifying properties and properties that are being used as live music venues.

Government considers assembly and leisure properties means properties that are being used for the provision of sport, leisure and facilities to visiting members of the public (including for the viewing of such activities):

  • Sports grounds and clubs
  • Museums and art galleries
  • Nightclubs
  • Sport and leisure facilities
  • Stately homes and historic houses
  • Theatres
  • Tourist attractions
  • Gyms

Government considers properties that are being used for the assembly of visiting members of the public means:

  • Public halls
  • Clubhouses, clubs and institutions

Government considers hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation to mean:

  • Hotels
  • Guest and Boarding Houses
  • Holiday homes
  • Caravan parks and sites

The list below sets out the types of uses that the Government does not consider to be an eligible use for the purpose of this relief:

  • Financial services (e.g. banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, payday lenders, betting shops, pawn brokers)
  • Other services (e.g. estate agents, letting agents, employment agencies)
  • Medical services (e.g. vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors)
  • Professional services (e.g. solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers, tutors
  • Post office sorting offices
  • Casinos and gambling clubs

The total amount of government-funded relief available for each property for 2020/21 eligible under this scheme is 100% of the bill.

State Aid

Whilst the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by the Government and the EU provides that during a transition period State aid rules will continue to apply. The Government has notified the EU of its intention to bring forward an immediate change to the UK’s tax treatment of non-domestic property, in response to the ongoing Covid-19 emergency, and to seek clearance under Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Subject to this approval, the scheme will apply to all businesses that are eligible.

You can read the full guide here: Expanded Retail Discount Guidance

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