Rates assistance for businesses impacted by COVID-19
The Finance Minister has announced a further £213 million of business rates support in addition to the emergency £100 million rates package to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19. Find out more about COVID-19: Emergency rates package for businesses.
What is Hardship Rate Relief?
Hardship Rate Relief for a non-domestic property is intended to assist a business recover from a temporary crisis, financial or otherwise, as a result of exceptional circumstances, and therefore some form of recovery plan will generally be required before an application can be considered.
What is meant by a 'crisis' and 'exceptional circumstances'?
As the Hardship Rate Relief scheme covers unforeseen events, it is not possible for LPS to offer precise definitions. However, a 'crisis' would have to result in a serious loss of trade or have a major effect on the services that can be provided.
'Exceptional circumstances' will usually be circumstances that came from outside the business or organisation, are beyond the normal risks faced by businesses and cannot be foreseen or avoided. The effect of strikes within a business or organisation increased running costs and increased competition would not be considered as 'exceptional circumstances' as they are normal business risks.
As a general rule, circumstances that would be covered by a commercial insurance policy or by compensation from public funding would not be considered as 'exceptional circumstances'. However, each case will be considered on its own merits.
What type of property does Hardship Rate Relief apply to?
Most non-domestic properties, including those owned or used by voluntary organisations, will be eligible for Hardship Rate Relief if they meet certain conditions. However, properties such as car parks, advertising hoardings, telecommunications masts and towers, and cash machines (ATMs) will not be eligible.
How do I apply for Hardship Rate Relief?
LPS have an application form for businesses that feel they are eligible to apply for Hardship Rate Relief. Download the LPS application form and guidance notes for Hardship Rate Relief (PDF, 493K).
Will I still need to continue to pay my rates?
You should continue to pay your rates while LPS consider your application. This will help you to avoid paying a large amount in one go if your application is unsuccessful. If your application is successful LPS will refund any rates you have paid for the period the Hardship Rate Relief is granted for.
What support can I expect if my application is successful?
Hardship Rate Relief is assessed based on the rating year in which the application is made. Any award on that application will not extend beyond that rating year. If you believe the hardship still exists in the next rating year, you must make a new application.
The amount awarded is up to a maximum of 100 per cent of rates owed for the period of hardship against the rating year the application is received. However, the maximum amount may be reduced if you have received any De Minimis state aid over the past three years.
De Minimis state aid is granted to a business by a public body, publicly funded body or a body under public sector control. Hardship Relief is intended to be temporary and it should apply only for the length of time that it takes a business or organisation to recover from the exceptional circumstances.
What happens if I disagree with the decision?
You can ask LPS to review your case within one month of receiving the decision letter. You must explain why you think the decision is wrong. A different and more senior LPS officer to the one who made the original decision will review your case.
Further information on Hardship Rate Relief
You can contact the LPS Application Based Relief Team for further advice and information on the Hardship Relief scheme. You can contact the LPS Hardship Rate Relief Team by using the following methods:
- Tel 0300 200 7801 (charged at local rate)
- Tel +44 28 9049 5794 if calling from outside the UK
- Text relay 18001 0300 200 7801
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note: Most LPS services are available, but LPS Customer Information Centres remain closed until further notice. The Ordnance Survey helpline remains closed until further notice, however queries can be directed to Mapping.Helpdesk@finance-ni.gov.uk. Helplines for rating and valuation, housing benefit, rates relief and land registration are open.
Closures will be kept under regular review in line with further Government announcements. Further information on service updates, helpline numbers and reaching LPS by email are available on the LPS website.
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