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Covid-19 (Coronavirus) - help for business ratepayers

The government has announced a range of help for businesses to be delivered by us as a Council to help support businesses affected by the Coronavirus (Covid-19). These measures are evolving. Information on the current situation and what you can do now to help us help you is below. If you think you qualify for any of the help listed here, please do not telephone us. We do not have any further information and we need to focus on plans to deliver the help.

Cllr Joss Bigmore, Lead Councillor for Finance and Assets and Customer Services says: "We recognise that this unprecedented situation has a major impact on the many local businesses who make up our thriving local economy. We need to pull together as a community, now more than ever and will do all we can to support you through these tough times. A range of business support is available including a business rate holiday, rate discounts for retail, leisure and hospitality and grants for businesses. Please visit our website for the most up-to-date information which we will update as we receive more details from the government."

"We also have advice on our website for food businesses who would like to offer takeaway or delivery options during this exceptional time and we will continue to share advice and updates on all of our services on our social media accounts, using the hashtag #isupportguildford."

Applications for Rate Discount (holiday)

Where we can, we will apply any rate discount (holiday) to your account without application.

How we will inform you

We may not be able to issue revised bills or state aid letters immediately. Instead we will publish a list of property references on our website. You can find your property reference on your rate demand - on the right, 3rd line down. This will enable us to get the information to you quickly, whilst protecting your data.

Already in receipt of Retail Discount - please do not cancel your direct debit

If you are already in receipt of Retail Discount please do not cancel your direct debit. This creates additional work for us. We expect to recalculate your bill during the week of 23 March, so we will not claim the April direct debit.

Rate Discounts for Retail, Leisure and Hospitality

The Retail Discount definition has been expanded.

The rateable value limit of £51,000 has been removed, however state aid still applies.

Properties must be occupied and wholly or mainly used:
a. As shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas or live music venues
b. For assembly and leisure
c. As hotels, guest houses and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.
More details can be found in the government guidance at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-retail-discount-guidance.

The discount will end either when the occupation of the property changes or 31 March 2021, whichever is first.

We will endeavour to identify those who qualify, so that they do not have to contact us.

Refunds

If you qualify for a retail discount and have already made a payment please email BRates@guildford.gov.uk, putting REFUND and your payer reference and property reference in the subject line. Provide us with your bank details (name, sort code, account) so that we can arrange a refund.

Pub Discounts

The pub discount has increased from £1000 to £5000. We are waiting for further government guidance, but will increase relief for all current recipients as the same criteria apply. We expect to do this during the week of 23 March.

Rate Holiday for Non Local Authority Childcare Providers

We currently have no information on this. Once we have guidance we will try to amend all the accounts that we think meet the criteria.

Grants for Ratepayers

We understand that the following grants will be available, however we are awaiting guidance and expect to receive it during the week of 23 March. We expect to pay grants in April once we have received the funding for distribution.

The indication is that the following grants will be available:

  • £10,000 grants for ratepayers in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief and Rural Rate Relief, where the rateable value is £15,000 or less and the property is not used for personal use. If you think you may qualify please email BRates@guildford.gov.uk, putting SBR GRANT and your payer reference and property reference in the subject line. Provide us with your bank details (name, sort code, account). As we do not have the final guidance we cannot guarantee a payment, and we may not respond until April, but this will help us prepare.
  • Payments from a Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund for those who qualified for the Retail Discount on 11 March 2020. Grants will be £10,000 where the rateable value is £15,000 or less, grants of £25,000 where the rateable value is £15,001 to less than £51,000. If you think you may qualify please email BRates@guildford.gov.uk, putting GRANTS FUND and your payer reference and property reference in the subject line. Provide us with your bank details (name, sort code, account). As we do not have the final guidance we cannot guarantee a payment, and we may not respond until April, but this will help us prepare.

Other difficulties

We will deal with other difficulties experienced by ratepayers on a case by case basis as the impact is not uniform. Please email BRates@guildford.gov.uk, putting DIFFICULTIES and your payer reference in the subject line. Please explain your specific difficulties, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Published on Friday 20 March.