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Claiming small business rates relief grant. :: 15/04/2020

You may have seen the headlines that the Government is providing grants of £10,000 to all businesses who have previously claimed small business rates relief. This relief is being managed by the businesses’ Local Authority (Who would normally manage the collection of business rates).

So HOW do you obtain this small business rates relief grant?

The process is straight forward and these are the steps to follow depending upon your situation:

Scenario A: The business has paid rates by direct debit in the past. In these circumstances the local authority has your bank details and can pay the grant directly to your bank account. Indeed many companies are already reporting receiving their grant.

Scenario B: The business has not paid rates in the past as it has claimed small business rate relief and has a zero rates liability after claiming the relief. This is probably the situation that most small businesses who have premises will find themselves in. In this situation the Local Authority will not be able to make the grant automatically as they don’t have the business’s bank details. Most local Authorities have set up portals to collect this information and it is just a case of providing the information through the Local Authorities website.

1. You will need your rates a/c reference from you rates bill. Typically a green form which will shows your Zero rates liability.

2. You will need to enter the company name exactly as it is on your rates bill including any spaces or misspelling etc. This is so that the Local Authorities system can provide a match to its records.

3. Your will then need to wait for the Local Authority to process your application.

Please remember that this is a new process for the Local Authority, they have lost staff due to self- isolating etc. many staff are working from home and each authority has thousands of companies to process. However, many Authorities are trying to scale up their staffing in the area. We have heard of at least one Authority temporarily quadrupling their staff dealing with rates and many authorities are working through weekends to get the grants out to business which desperately need them.

Scenario C: The business would be entitled to small business rates relief but has never registered to obtain it. This would happen where a company has moved in during the year or where a company has never contacted the Local Authority to register for rates as their liability would be zero after rates relief anyway. This is surprisingly common. In this situation it is a case of contacting (ideally by email) your Local Authority and explaining the situation. The Local Authority will then make a judgement call as to whether the business qualifies for the small business rates relief grant. Strictly the legislation leaves this entirely up to the Local Authority. However, we would expect the Local Authority after making appropriate checks to process the grant and make the payment to legitimate claimants. It is understandable that the processing in these cases will take longer than the two previous scenarios.

I wish you well in obtaining your grant, surviving the current crisis and coming out the other side.

This article was written in good faith by Russell Warner of Westend Office Suites and the Gloucestershire Area Lead for the FSB based upon direct feedback from businesses in Gloucestershire, particularly the Stroud District.

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