The government has announced a new £1.5bn fund will be made available for businesses outside of the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors following a deluge of appeals for support during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new fund is designed to help firms with the taxes they pay on the value of the premises their business occupies. Over the past year, hundreds of thousands of UK businesses lodged appeals to the treasury to reduce their rates bills, after cashflow dramatically dried up as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government has received around 170,000 claims from businesses seeking “material change of circumstance” (MCC) adjustments to their business rates. Faced with such an overwhelming backlog, the government has taken the decision to reject all of the claims related to the pandemic. They will instead offer support from this new fund which will be administered by local authorities. Local control is designed to prevent support from going to businesses that were able to operate as normal, or for the funds to be overly focused on one region, such as London and the South East.
The CBI and other groups have offered cautious support for the scheme, but there are concerns that many businesses in need of support will still fall through the net. Companies that made MCC claims may well be frustrated that their claims are now null and void, and they will need to reapply for the new fund via their local authority.
Expert advice and support
The rules and qualifying criteria surrounding this new targeted support are still being worked out. This adds to the sometimes confusing portfolio of support available to small and medium-sized enterprises as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Understanding who qualifies, and how much support they might be entitled to, isn’t always straightforward. To avoid missing out on available support, businesses are advised to seek professional advice. Accountants can offer guidance about qualifying criteria and how to apply. They can also help businesses with their financial planning as they negotiate the pandemic and beyond.
Get in touch to find out more about how we can help you get the support to which you’re entitled, and to put your business on the best footing going forward.