Following recent Government announcements relating to the support of Leisure, Hospitality & Retail Business, a number of our clients have made immediate enquiries as to their eligibility for the Scheme. We set out below our current (as of 21st March 2020) understanding of the Scheme to try to assist you to understand what it might mean for your business.

We would advise the reader to use the Government website below to monitor the full list of reliefs and grants available to the business owner at this time, which is being updated on a daily basis:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

You can sign up for regular updates upon announcements on the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/email-signup?link=/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

1. What the Chancellor Said Re Leisure, Hospitality & Retail Business

  • The Chancellor said that no business in the retail, leisure or hospitality sector will pay rates in 20/21 regardless of their rateable value;
  •  In addition, if your property is in the retail, leisure or hospitality sector and your rateable value is less than £51,000, the government has announced that they will make a grant of up to £25,000 available; (See section 2 below for banding)
  • Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:
    • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
    • for assembly and leisure
    • as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

2. So What Is Available?

Business Rates Holiday

You are eligible if your business is based in England and your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector and you received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year

Cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property

  • For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, they will receive a grant of £10,000;
  • For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, they will receive a grant of £25,000.

3. Am I Considered To Be in The Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Sector?

Many businesses may feel that they are within the Sector – unfortunately, the Government may not yet consider you to be;

Things are moving rapidly – there may or may not be changed to the definitions applied by Government;

In the meantime, we publish below what currently is understood to be the business activities that will qualify.

4. What Do I Need To Do Now?

Nothing; there is no action for you, the Government has stated

  • This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020;
  • However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.

5. So What Constitutes A Business In Retail?

  • So far as we can ascertain, there are numerous categories of business that qualify as being in the retail sector.
  • Where properties are being used for the sale of goods to visiting members of the public
    • Shops (such as florists, bakers, butchers, grocers, greengrocers, jewellers, stationers, off licences, chemists, newsagents, hardware stores, supermarkets, etc);
    • Charity shops;
    • Opticians;
    • Post offices;
    • Furnishing shops/ display rooms (such as carpet shops, double glazing, garage doors);
    • Car/caravan showrooms;
    • Second-hand car lots;
    • Markets;
    • Petrol stations;
    • Garden centres;
    • Art galleries (where art is for sale/hire)
  • Where properties are being used for the provision of the following services to visiting members of the public:
    • Hair and beauty services (such as hairdressers, nail bars, beauty salons, tanning shops, etc), shoe repairs/key cutting
    • Travel agents;
    • Ticket offices e.g. for theatre
    • Dry cleaners;
    • Launderettes;
    • PC/TV/domestic appliance repair;
    • Funeral directors;
    • Photo processing;
    • Tool hire;
    • Car hire
  • Where properties are being used for the sale of food and/or drink to visiting members of the public:
    • Restaurants;
    • Takeaways;
    • Sandwich shops;
    • Coffee shops;
    • Pubs;
    • Bars

6. So What Constitutes A Business In Leisure or Hospitality?

So far as we can ascertain, Leisure and Hospitality is a new category which was not defined previously.

We have been advised by a Local Council that this category is now defined as properties used for the provision of sport and leisure facilities, assembly of visiting members of the public and, the provision of living accommodation as a business. This apparently includes:

    • sports grounds and clubs;
    • museums and art galleries;
    • nightclubs;
    • sport and leisure facilities;
    • stately homes and historic houses;
    • theatres;
    • tourist attractions;
    • gyms;
    • public halls;
    • clubhouse, clubs and institutions;
    • hotels, guest and boarding houses;
    • holiday homes;
    • caravan parks and sites

Note that properties must be occupied and not empty. o Helpfully we understand that properties which are temporarily closed due to Government advice on COVID-19 will be treated as occupied for the purposes of this help!

To clarify, the government has provided a list of properties that do not qualify for the relief, these are:

Financial services (e.g. banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, payday lenders, betting shops, pawnbrokers)

    • Other services (e.g. estate agents, letting agents, employment agencies
    • Medical services (e.g. vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors
    • Professional services (e.g. solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers, tutors)
    • Post office sorting office
    • Casinos and gambling club
    • Properties that are not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public

Barrons has put together a helpful guide to running your business during the coronavirus crisis.