17/12/21 – Coronavirus Relief and Appeal Update

Following the coronavirus pandemic, the government announced an intention to prohibit all appeals made on the grounds that the government’s pandemic guidance adversely affected rateable values.

To replace these rights, a fund was announced to support businesses that had been affected by the pandemic but had not been compensated through alternative relief schemes.

The Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Act 2021 received Royal Assent this week. This legislation bars any Challenges to a rateable value based upon actions taken to comply with coronavirus guidance or legislation, including those challenges already submitted.

On 15 December the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) issued the long-awaited guidance to Local Authorities regarding the £1.5bn relief fund available for businesses that have been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The relief will be known as the Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF) and is available during the 2021-22 financial year. It is aimed at ratepayers who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic but have not adequately been compensated through existing relief schemes.

We assume this means that the relief will be focused on businesses that supplied goods and services to the retail, hospitality and leisure industries and whose trade was hampered by the enforced closure of those businesses. How a Local Authority will determine which businesses are affected or what proof of hardship a business will need to provide is not yet known.

Each Local Authority must now devise their own policy on how the fund is to be distributed but there are certain exclusions.

1. The ratepayer cannot have benefitted from other specific Covid-19 relief such as Expanded Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief, Nursery Discount or the Airport support scheme.

2. The hereditament (property) must be occupied (or would have been occupied but for the government’s Covid-19 advice)

The relief will be distributed under existing discretionary relief powers and there will be a time limit on applications by 30 September 2022. In addition, claimants will have to self-declare that the amount of relief they receive does not exceed limits under at least three different subsidy schemes.

Unfortunately, it does not appear that applying for the relief will be straightforward and businesses will need to check the individual scheme for each Local Authority. Businesses will also need to understand what other reliefs they have already received and whether these will affect their ability to claim CARF. The guidance can be found here but we will have to wait to see the specifics of individual Local Authorities schemes.

To speak to a member of our Business Rates team, call us on 01727 732 222