The Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Act 2021 received Royal Assent on 15 December 2021.
As a result of this new legislation, Hillingdon Council has received a £12.6m share of the £1.5bn fund made available to support businesses that have been affected by the pandemic, but which were ineligible for the existing business rate support via the Expanded Retail Discount and Nursery Support scheme.
The new scheme will be known as COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF). Businesses entitled to the Airport and Ground Operation Support Scheme (AGOSS) operated by the Department for Transport will not be eligible to receive further support via CARF.
The council was required to design and approve a local scheme for the distribution of this fund to local business. The local scheme has been approved.
The government has advised that in order to claim the monies to pay this relief councils must:
not award relief to ratepayers who for the same period of the relief either are or would have been eligible for the Extended Retail Discount (covering retail, hospitality and leisure), the Nursery Discount or the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme (AGOSS)
not award relief to a hereditament for a period when it is unoccupied (other than hereditaments which have become closed temporarily due to the government's advice on COVID-19, which should be treated as occupied for the purposes of this relief)
direct their support towards ratepayers who have been adversely affected by the pandemic and have been unable to adequately adapt to that impact.
The council has now modelled its scheme and auto awarded a proportion of the available funding to eligible accounts that were occupied during 2021 to 2022. The eligible businesses will not have been in receipt of, or eligible for, the Extended Retail Discount (covering retail, hospitality and leisure), the Nursery Discount or the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme (AGOSS).
The council will initially be applying 80% of the GVA percentage to allow a fund for businesses that wish to request a review of the sector indicators provided by the VOA on which the allocation is based.
Revised bills showing the amount of relief awarded through CARF will be issued in June 2022, showing a recalculation of the business rates instalments after taking into account the award of relief.
A 6-week window from Thursday 16 June to 5pm on Thursday 28 July 2022 is available for businesses to apply for a review of the % relief awarded. Applications may be made if businesses believe their business has been incorrectly assigned to an inappropriate sector, or that they have not been awarded CARF, and believe that they meet the eligibility criteria.