Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses – update

The Government announcement for the Business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses is currently being progressed. We are expecting the necessary software update from our software supplier, Capita, by the end of this week. This will enable us to re run businesses bills before the April payment date of 8th April. This will mean those businesses eligible will not have to pay any rates for 2020/21.


Small Business Relief Grant and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant

The Government have now issued the guidance for local authorities to pay grants of either £10,000 or £25,000 to eligible businesses. We expect this to positively affect over 2,000 businesses in Rother with a total cost in the region of £27m. Read the Government’s eligibility criteria.

Specific information is required to enable the Council to validate the eligibility of the business and collect bank account information so we can make payments electronically. Therefore if you believe you are  eligible for one of these grants please click on the link below. When the payment has been processed you will receive a confirmation email. 

If you have already submitted a grant form and are eligible we will be making payments on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week to ensure the business grants are paid as quickly as possible. The payment will be made via BACS and takes two working days to clear into the business’ bank account. Due to the number of businesses entitled to support, it may take up to 14 days on receipt of the grant form to process and make payment.

If you have a query about the grants or your eligibility you might be able to find the answer in the Business Support Grant FAQs

If you require any further information about a grant decision please email: business.grants@rother.gov.uk


Rother scheme for Discretionary Business Grants to open soon

We have now agreed the principles for our local grant policy based on the recently published Government guidance and are now working hard with our business partner, Ascendant, to get the full on-line application process up and running soon, hopefully by this weekend. The detailed policy will be published shortly.

The discretionary scheme is a cash limited scheme and is aimed at supporting some of the small businesses who were not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Fund. It will prioritise small and micro businesses with fixed property-related costs which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Local Authorities have been asked by government to prioritise the following:

  • Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces. Examples could include units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment;
  • Regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment;
  • Bed & Breakfasts which pay Council Tax instead of business rates; and
  • Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.

We are also placing local priority on businesses that operate self-contained holiday lets that are registered for council tax rather than business rates. We are aware that many holiday lets are not required to register for business rates and as such missed out on financial support offered by the two schemes above.

This grant funding is only for businesses that are not eligible for other support schemes. Businesses who have received cash grants or are eligible for any central government Covid- related scheme are ineligible for funding from the Discretionary Grants Fund. Such grant schemes include but are not limited to:  

  • Small Business Grant Fund;
  • Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant;
  • The Fisheries Response Fund;
  • Domestic Seafood Supply Scheme (DSSS);
  • The Zoos Support Fund;
  • The Dairy Hardship Fund

Only business which were trading on 11th March 2020 will be eligible and companies that are in administration, are insolvent or where a striking-off notice has been made will not be eligible.


Business support finder

A new ‘support finder’ tool has been launched by the Government to help businesses and self-employed people across the UK to quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them during the coronavirus pandemic.

The finder tool on GOV.UK asks business owners to fill out a simple online questionnaire, which can take minutes to complete, and they will then be directed to a list of all the financial support they may be eligible for. The support finder can be found at https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder


Support for self-employed through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme

The Government has launched the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) which will support self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed. There are qualifying criteria and we understand that the payment is likely to be paid in arrears in June for the April to June period.

The Government have published a whole webpage for supporting businesses, including those who are self-employed.

Read more about the Self-employment Income Support Scheme and apply

The Council may also be able to help you with paying your council tax:

Existing  Housing Benefit / Council Tax Reduction claimants: Please email: revenuesandbenefits@rother.gov.uk if you are no longer undertaking Self Employed work due Covid-19 restrictions and we will reassess your entitlement to help, based on your revised circumstances. If your situation changes again (e.g. you are able to recommence working) or if you receive a grant from the Government payable under the Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), then you must tell us as soon as possible.

New Council Tax Reduction claims, please go online to the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction application form, to make an application or if you are claiming Universal Credit you will be able to opt to claim a reduction in your council tax as part of your application process. You can apply even if you have been trading for more than 52 weeks but are now earning less, we will not apply the Minimum Income Floor for 6 months. We are treating Covid-19 as a significant change to a business and will consider it a fresh start- up period giving you access to this help. Further information is available on the Council Tax Reduction page.


Further information

For more information about the Government’s support measures for businesses please visit the UK Government web page:  https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support

Further advice and guidance is also available through the East Sussex Growth Hub: https://southeastbusiness.org.uk/east-sussex/

Information about business closure regulations in response to COVID-19

You can listen to Covid-19 Business Support explained in other languages on the Business East Sussex website.