Coronavirus: council service information and advice

Information about changes to council services as a result of coronavirus



Payment update

We have now made over £36.5million in grant payments in respect of over 2900 business properties. This equates to almost 93% of the businesses we believe to be in scope for this support.

These grants have been vital to our local economy – helping ensure the survival of shops, cafes, hotels, restaurants and many other businesses.

The Government  are closing these schemes and so to make sure all applications received are evaluated and processed, we will only accept applications until 28 August 2020. 

If you think that you are eligible, but have not yet been in touch with us about this, please do so as soon as possible to avoid missing out on this support.

Please note: this is a grant, not a loan and does not need to be repaid. 

If you are not eligible for these grants then you may be eligible for the Discretionary Grant Fund which closes on 17 August 2020.

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, Monday to Friday from 7am - 7pm.

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 Nursery Discount scheme (issued 20/03/20)