Emergency support for Worcester businesses during virus outbreak
Worcester City Council will be administering an emergency package of business rates discounts following the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s announcement of measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Some of the key measures will involve reducing business rates and making direct cash grants to the most-affected business sectors:
· Businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors will pay no business rates in 2020-21. As yet, the Government has not defined which businesses fall into these sectors.
· Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with rateable values of less than £51,000 will also receive a cash grant of up to £25,000
· All businesses in receipt of small business rates relief – regardless of sector – will be eligible for a cash payment of £10,000 (an increase on the £3,000 announced in the Spring Budget last week).
These changes are in addition to the changes announced in the Budget on 11 March:
· Retail discount will be increased from 50% to 100% in 2020-21 including leisure and hospitality businesses
· Public house discount will be increased from £1,000 to £5,000 in 2020-21
· Continuation of rates relief for local newspaper offices
· Small and medium size businesses will be compensated for statutory sick pay.
Shane Flynn, Worcester City Council’s Director of Resources, said: “Business rates reliefs will be provided automatically through the business rates billing system. Eligible businesses will be sent new bills in due course and any rates already paid for 2020/21 will be refunded.
“The Government has not yet provided details regarding how businesses will apply for grants. We will give updates as soon as these details have been provided.”
A further £500m Hardship Fund for local authorities was also announced in the Spring Budget which will be used to support individuals struggling financially as a result of the pandemic. Details of this have not yet been made available to councils.
The Chancellor also announced the availability of low-interest loans of up to £5m, to help small and medium-sized enterprises with their cashflow and other loans for larger businesses.
The government is applying to the EU to remove any State Aid limits which might otherwise reduce the amount of rates relief that could be awarded.
More information will be available soon at www.worcester.gov.uk.