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Small business rating relief grant - will some clients miss out?

In the interests of acting quickly to push out support to small businesses via an existing network, one of the elements of the Covid-19 support package is a £10,000 small business grant.

This is available for businesses which are eligible for small business rating relief (SBRR), with the exclusion of private premises (such as stables, moorings, beach huts etc.), car parks and parking spaces. The payments should be made automatically, and government advice is that “if you are eligible, your local authority will be in touch with you to arrange payment.” Most clients will have received letters or emails early in April.

There is, however, a practical difficulty. Almost by definition the local authority will not have bank details for the ratepayer. Accordingly, each local authority has needed to set up its own software for information gathering. Most are starting the process with a simple eligibility checker, but others seem to have unilaterally decided that certain properties may not be occupied by a business, and blocked access to the payment process unless the ratepayer enters into email correspondence with the authority. Some on-farm solar PV arrays have certainly been caught by this glitch, but there could be other enterprises such as commercial liveries which are also affected.