Torbay businesses ‘missing out’ on virus grants

Paul Bettesworth urging businesss to apply for grant funding Photo: Contributed

Paul Bettesworth urging businesss to apply for grant funding Photo: Contributed - Credit: Archant

In response to the enormous challenges faced by businesses as a result of the pandemic and lockdown, the government has implemented a series of initiatives and alterations to the Business Rates Levy and introduced a series of grant funds.

As the grants are hitting the bank accounts of those who have applied, there is evidence that many more business operators remain unaware or are misunderstanding the workings of the funds.

In recent weeks we have assisted many businesses in successfully applying for, and now receiving their due grants.

However, we are still concerned that many others haven't applied and that there are many misunderstandings of the systems in place.

We are experiencing multiple cases where business owners are not even aware of their eligibility or mistaking the grants for loans.

These grants are not repayable but neither are they automatically allocated. They must be applied for through the relevant Local Billing Authority.

We have assisted applicants in receiving grants from £10,000 to over £100,000 (in certain cases of multiple rate paying businesses). The grant is not restricted to be used to pay your business rates. As is often the case with Business Rates related matters, there is misunderstanding and inaccurate interpretation.

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I spoke with a client last week who was unaware that his various businesses were eligible for a total of £45,000 and another who thought it was only shops and pubs that qualified.

There are two strands under-which businesses may qualify: The Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund.

The Small Business Grant Fund:

• to be eligible for the grant, the business must occupy a premise with a rateable value of less than £15,000 and have done so from at least March 11, 2020

• the business must have been eligible for (even if not receiving) Small Business Rates Relief at this time. In its simplest form, this means the business only occupies one premises with a rateable value of less than £15,000

• regardless of your business use, eligible small businesses with a rateable value of up to £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000

• there are exclusions for premises for personal use (eg beach huts, private stables etc). Land, car parks and moorings are also excluded. The business needs to be active as evidenced by a bank statement within the last three months

• do not assume that because you receive 100 per cent relief and pay no rates, that you are not entitled to the grant.

The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund is available to businesses such as shops, restaurants/cafes, pubs & drinking establishments, hotels, guest houses/B&Bs, hostels and self-catering accommodation, cinemas, sports grounds/clubs, gyms, leisure and tourist attractions.

This list is not exhaustive:

• businesses are eligible even if not currently trading due to COVID shutdown

• eigible businesses with a Rateable Value of up to £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000

• eligible businesses with a Rateable Value of over £15,000 but less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000

• businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or more are not eligible for this grant

• exclusions include some financial and professional services, medical services (vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors) and premises not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public.

Qualifying retail, hospitality and leisure properties will also receive full rates relief (i.e pay no business rates for 12 months effective from April 1, 2020). This part is automatically applied. Both funds are limited to one grant per rateable premises and you cannot receive both grants on the same property.

Applications are made to the local authority within which your premises are located. That local authority will also pay the grant. Applications are made online on each respective authority's website. To apply you will need:

• your Business Rate account number (six digits) as shown on your bill

• your company number if a limited company

• your business bank account details

• a recent copy of your bank statement, from the last three months (saved as an image to upload) payments are currently being received approximately two weeks after a successful application.

Bettesworths are happy to offer free and without obligation advice to business owners with concerns and queries. Call 01803 212021 or log on to bettesworths.co.uk

Paul Bettesworth

Director, Bettesworth Chartered Surveyors