Coronavirus: council service information and advice

Information about changes to council services as a result of coronavirus

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Please check this page for up-to-date information about support affecting business rates. 

You can contact our dedicated business support line on 023 9284 1641. Please note: we are only taking urgent enquiries as we are experiencing a high number of calls. 

Annual business rates bills had already been prepared at the time of the budget announcement. Where applicable, we will re-issue bills to incorporate the changes. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been working closely with representatives of local government and the software providers, and we expect to be able to include the extended relief in revised bills shortly.

We are currently experiencing high volumes of calls and correspondence due to the issue of annual business rates bills and further recent announcements from the Chancellor regarding additional business rates support.

We will issue amended bills and distribute grants to all customers affected by these changes as quickly as we can.

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grant Fund

In response to coronavirus, the Government announced there would be support for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector. This includes the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant for businesses in England receiving the expanded business rates retail discount.

Under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant businesses in England receiving the expanded retail discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for the following cash grants per property:

  • Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000, in line with the eligibility criteria.
  • Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000, in line with the eligibility criteria .

Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or over are not eligible for this scheme. Details of your rateable value are contained on your business rates bill, or can be found on Gov.UK.

Exclusions to Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant

  • Properties occupied for personal uses. Examples of where there may be personal use include private stables and loose boxes, beach huts and moorings.
  • Car parks and parking spaces.
  • For the avoidance of doubt, businesses which as of the 11 March were in liquation or were dissolved will not be eligible.
  • Hereditaments with a rateable value of over £51,000.

You can view a summary table of the grant here.

We will contact ratepayers that we believe to be eligible shortly and will be working to distribute grants as swiftly as possible.

Guidance on this grant was published 24 March 2020 by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. To view this guidance, visit Gov.UK

Business Rates Support Grant - £10,000 for small businesses

In response to coronavirus, the Government announced there would be support for small businesses. This includes the Small Business Grant, for businesses in England receiving small business rates relief.

Under the Small Business Grant Fund all businesses in England receiving small business rates relief with a rateable value of less than £15,000 will be eligible for a grant of £10,000. Details of your small business rates relief award can be found on your bill.

If you do not currently receive small business rates relief and think you may be eligible, the criteria is:

  • Your rateable value on your main property is below £15,000
  • If you occupy other rateable properties, their value must be below £2,900, and the combined value of all your rateable properties must be below £20,000.

Businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or over are not eligible for this scheme. Details of your rateable value are contained on your business rates bill, or can be found on Gov.UK.

Exclusions to Small Business Grant Fund

  • Properties occupied for personal uses. Examples of where there may be personal use include private stables and loose boxes, beach huts and moorings.
  • Car parks and parking spaces.
  • For the avoidance of doubt, businesses which as of the 11 March were in liquation or were dissolved will not be eligible.
  • Properties not eligible for small business rates relief
  • Hereditaments with a rateable value of over £15,000

You can view a summary table of the grant here.

We will contact ratepayers that we believe to be eligible shortly and will be working to distribute grants as swiftly as possible.

Guidance on this grant was published on 24 March 2020 by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. To view this guidance, please visit Gov.UK.

Retail Discount - 100% Relief for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure sector

The government had announced that the existing one-third retail discount scheme would increase to 50% for 2020/21 and extend to include cinemas and music venues, where the rateable value is less than £51,000.

At Budget 2020, to support small businesses affected by COVID-19, it was announced that government would increase the scheme further to 100%, and be extended to include the hospitality and leisure sector.

On 17 March 2020, it was announced that the existing retail discount scheme would be extended to 100% and include all properties regardless of the rateable value.

On 25 March 2020, it was announced that estate agents, lettings agencies, employment agencies and bingo halls that have closed as a result of COVID-19 measures to restrict the spread of the virus will now be exempted from business rates in 2020-21. Eligible businesses will be re-billed and the new bill will be given the discount of 100%.

Eligible ratepayers will be:

  • shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, estate agents, lettings agencies, employment agencies, betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, cinemas and live music venues;
  • for assembly and leisure; or
  • hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.


Premises which should not receive relief:

  • 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, tutors),
  • Post office sorting offices,

    In line with the legal restrictions in section 47(8A) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, billing authorities may not grant the discount to themselves, a precepting authority, or a functional body, within the meaning of the Greater London Authority Act 1999

    Current status: The annual bills issued to eligible retailers are now incorrect. Affected business rates accounts will be reassessed and bills reissued as soon as we are able to. Direct debits will be cancelled.

Government guidance on the expanded retail scheme (issued 18/03/20)

Relief for Pubs - £5,000 discount for eligible pubs (now redundant)

A £5,000 discount for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 was announced for the 2020/21 billing year.

However due to the extension of the retail discount scheme to include pubs, this relief is now redundant as pubs will be eligible for 100% discount.

Current status: We will issue updated bills as soon as we are able to and direct debits will be cancelled. 

Business Rates Public Lavatories Relief - 100% Relief from Business Rates

At Budget 2020, the government announced it would bring forward legislation as soon as possible in this session to provide mandatory 100% business rates relief for standalone public lavatories in England from April 2020.

More information about Budget 2020

Business Rates Nursery Discount - 100% for childcare providers on Ofsted's Early Years Register

On 18 March 2020, in response to the coronavirus, the Government announced that many childcare providers would pay no business rates in 2020/21

This relief will apply to hereditaments occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register and wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage and which are subject to business rates in the year 2020/21. There will be no rateable value limit on the relief.

Current status: We are waiting for access to the Ofsted’s Early Years Register and then we will issue new bills and cancel direct debits.

Government guidance on the Nursey Discount scheme (issued 20/03/20)

Hardship Fund

At Budget 2020, the government announced that it would provide Local Authorities in England with £500 million of new grant funding to support economically vulnerable people and households in their local area. The government expects most of this funding to be used to provide more council tax relief, either through existing Local Council Tax Support schemes, or through complementary reliefs.

Current status: We are waiting for further guidance from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

More information about Budget 2020