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Recent changes and government announcements

Government proposals for 2020/21

In January 2020, the Financial Secretary announced additional business rates measures that will apply from 1 April 2020.

The government announced it will increase the retail discount from one third to 50 per cent, extend that discount to cinemas and music venues, extend the duration of the local newspapers' office space discount, and introduce an additional discount for pubs.

In response to COVID-19, the level of the retail discount to apply in 2020/21 has been increased from one third to 100 per cent for eligible retail businesses, including music venues and cinemas, occupying a property with a rateable value less than £51,000.

The extension of the £1,500 business rates discount for office space occupied by local newspapers will apply for an additional five years until 31 March 2025.

The pubs discount will provide a £5,000 discount to eligible pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 in 2020/21. This is in addition to the retail discount and will apply after the retail discount.

All reliefs are subject to state aid rules and apply in England only.

COVID-19: Business grants for small businesses 

In the 2020 Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a grant to small businesses to assist with the coronavirus situation. This grant would be administered by local authorities. Following a further announcement on 17 March 2020, this grant has been extended to retail and hospitality businesses with a rateable value below £51,000.    

Although the full details of the government scheme have yet to be announced, St Helens Council will be writing to relevant local businesses to apply for the grant. This will ensure that assistance is provided promptly to qualifying businesses.

COVID-19: Business rate relief to retail, leisure and hospitality businesses 

Further to the 2020 Budget, St Helens Council has currently applied 100% rate relief to qualifying retail premises with a rateable value below £51,000.

Additional guidance has been provided regarding the expanded criteria and the council is lloking to extend the reliefs awarded

Properties that can benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:

a - as shops, restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues

b - for assembly and leisure or

c - as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

Further guidance on the grant scheme is now available.

The level of relief has been increased to 100% and the maximum rateable value threshold has been removed.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that this 100% relief would be extended to qualifying leisure and hospitality premises.      

The government will be issuing guidance shortly on which businesses will qualify. Revised bills will be issued once this guidance has been received.

Read more guidance for businesses issued by the government.