On 25 March 2021 the government announced a new COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF) of £1.5 billion to support those business rate payers affected by the pandemic but that are ineligible for existing support linked to business rates.
On 15 December 2021 the government published guidance on the operation of the fund and details of the funding allocation for each authority.
The funding allocated to Stafford Borough Council is £2,965,903.
Individual Councils are responsible for developing a local scheme in order to determine which businesses will benefit from this relief.
Awards will be made to reduce the chargeable amounts in respect of 2021-22 and the government has made clear that the following are ineligible for the Business Rates Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF):
- 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)
- for a period when a property is unoccupied (other than property which has become closed temporarily due to the government’s advice on COVID-19, which should be treated as occupied for the purposes of this relief)
Businesses appearing to the Council to meet the qualifying criteria will be invited to apply for a reduction in their 2021-22 Business Rates if they:
- are based in the Council’s administrative area
- were in occupation and liable for business rates as at 1 April 2021
- can demonstrate that they have been severely impacted by COVID-19
- are not in receipt of the Business Rates Expanded Retail Discount available to businesses in the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure sectors
- are not in receipt of Nursery Discount or the Airport and Grounds Operations Support Scheme (AGOSS)
- are not in receipt of 100% relief – small business rates relief, rural rate relief or charitable relief
- are not in administration, insolvent or subject to a striking off order
- the closing date for applications will be 15 September 2022
- the closing date for this scheme is 30 September 2022.
A severe impact of covid-19 for this purpose will usually mean that the business has suffered a 30% reduction in their income, but other types of detrimental impact may considered at the discretion of the Council.
Businesses will be required to make a declaration of the impact of covid and may be required to submit evidence of this before or after the award of relief.
Relief will be withdrawn if requested evidence is not provided or does not support the declaration upon which relief was awarded.
- The amount of relief will be determined according to the number of qualifying businesses that make applications, with levels being determined by the Local Taxation and Benefits Manager in consultation with the Chief Financial Officer and Cabinet Member responsible for Business Rates.
- Relief will be expressed as a % of the rates payable for the 2021-22 year.
- A cap may be applied to the amount of relief that a single organisation will be awarded.
- The amount of relief will be awarded to the financial year 2021-22 on the business rates account for occupied periods only.
- The relief will be applied after mandatory and any other discretionary reliefs.
- Relief will be awarded under Sec 47 of the Local Government finance Act 1988.
- Where there is a balance on the account this will be reduced and a copy account issued.
- Where the award of relief leaves the account in credit this will in the first instance be transferred to 2022-23.
- If the 2022-23 account is overpaid as a consequence of this transfer, the credit will be refunded.
- If retrospective changes are carried out or the businesses becomes ineligible for the relief the account will be updated to reflect the change.
- Relief will not be awarded to a billing authority or a precepting body ie parish council, county council.
Any relief provided by Local Authorities under the CARF Scheme will need to comply with the UK’s domestic and international subsidy control obligations.
Ratepayers will be asked as part of the application process to inform the authority if they are in breach of the subsidy allowances.
For the purpose of this scheme the Council wishes to support businesses that have received less than £2,243,000 subsidy allowances which fell within the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance or COVID-19 related allowances. Applications will not be accepted from businesses exceeding this limit.