COVID-19: Business support

This page is no longer being updated. Please visit merton.gov.uk/coronavirus for up-to-date information.

 

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Business rates and small business grants

The Government has made a series of announcements about the support available to businesses in response to the coronavirus pandemic:

  • all businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors (including pubs), and all providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register will pay no business rates in 2020/21. The Government has yet to confirm if state aid rules will apply to this. There is no need to contact the council, we will automatically reduce the amount of business rates you have been asked to pay.
  • businesses classed as within retail, leisure and hospitality sectors (including pubs) with a rateable value of over £15,000 and up to £51,000 will be eligible to apply for a £25,000 grant in 2020/21 in addition to their relief from business rates
  • businesses who receive small business rates relief will be eligible to apply for a £10,000 grant in 2020/21 on top of their existing relief

The council understands it will receive the funding from central Government on 1 April 2020. We are currently working with our system supplier to put in place a simple process so we can gather any information required and make payments as quickly as possible after that date. Please continue to check our website for updates.

We will try to automatically identify your business as an eligible business for the enhanced relief and reissue your business rates bill as soon as we can. If you believe that your business should qualify but you do not receive a letter by 15 April  you will be able to download an application form from the website to apply.

For more information on rates relief and grants, visit the GOV.uk website.

Other support from central Government

The Chancellor has set out a package measures to support businesses through the outbreak of COVID-19 including:

  • A Coronavirus Job Retention scheme
  • Deferring VAT and Income Tax payments
  • A Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs)
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • The HMRC Time To Pay scheme

Full details can be found on the GOV.uk website.

Help with paying your business rates

If you are not a retail, hospitality or leisure business and you are having trouble paying your business rates bill due to the impact of COVID-19, the council’s business rates team may be able to help you. Please call 020 8545 3919 or email at business.rates@merton.gov.uk

FAQs

My business is classified as retail, leisure or in the hospitality sector (including pubs) will I need to apply for the new 100% rate relief?

No, the Council will try to automatically identify your business as an eligible business for the enhanced relief and reissue your business rates bill as soon as we are able to.

All businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors (including pubs) will pay no business rates in 2020/21. The Government has yet to confirm if state aid rules will apply to this.

If you believe that your business should qualify but you do not receive a letter by 15 April you will be able to download an application form from the website to apply. During this application stage you do not have to pay your original business rates bill, however if your application does not fulfil the eligibility criteria you will have to pay the amount stated in your existing business rates bill for 2020/21.

if you pay business rates on a pub and already receive pub relief this will no longer be applicable as you are entitled to 100% rate relief for 2020/21 under your status as a hospitality business. You do not need to pay any amount stated on your original bill.

I don’t receive small business rates relief, is this automatically applied if I am eligible?

If you have not previously received small business rates relief you do have to apply for this. To be eligible you must have a rateable value of less than £15,000 and occupy one property (in some cases businesses can occupy more than one).

I receive small business rates relief how do I apply for the additional £10,000 grant?

Information and administration processes on these new grants are not yet available, but will appear on this page and you will also be contacted as soon as these details become available.

My business is not eligible for any of the new enhanced rate reliefs will my business rates bill be reissued anyway?

No, your bill will remain the same and you must pay in the timeline already set out in your existing 2020/21 business rates bill.

Is there any further support available for my business?

Yes, the Government has announced the launch of a new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and statutory sick pay reimbursements. Details can be found on the GOV.uk website.

Useful links

London Growth Hub – Offering business support.

The British Chambers of Commerce – Advice on how the Chambers and members can minimise the impact on local communities, along with details for how you can contact your local Chamber.

Federation of small businesses Up-to-date information on details of the government support package. Register for free webinars, guidance for employers and details on how to create a business continuity plan.

London FundersThe Mayor of London has pledged £1 million to a new emergency support fund to help London’s community and voluntary organisations affected by the impact of the coronavirus. Full details to be published next week.

The Creative Industries Federation is offering free 6 month membership to support all creative freelancers and micro-businesses (those with 10 employees or less) during these challenging times.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Furloughed workers) – If your business cannot afford to cover staff costs due to coronavirus, you may be able to access support to continue paying wages, to avoid redundancies.

To access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, you (the employer) will need to discuss this with employees and agree to them becoming classified as a furloughed worker. This means they would stay on your payroll rather than being laid off.

To qualify for this scheme, the employees should not undertake any work for you while they are furloughed. This will allow you to claim a grant of up to 80% of the employees wage and all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.