3rd February 2021
Rates support – As you know one of our major complaints to government over businesses support has been the nonsensical ignoring of supply chains. Whilst a little support is now getting through we keep pressing the case. I would also remind members that if you have been refused help under the discretionary funds available, please go back to the Council. Nigel Huddleston, DCMS Minister, confirmed last week on our call with him that Councils have money to give precisely to businesses like yours that have missed out on other support.
We have not been successful yet in persuading rates support to be extended to the supply chain. However, you may have read press reports about ratepayers negotiating with the Valuation Office in England over rates reductions for premises (such as offices and warehouses) that are essentially unused during this crisis and therefore should be revalued downwards. Discussions were supposed to be confidential but the cat is now out of the bag and whilst there is a long way to go it does offer some hope of help for members. I attach a short advisory note from our advisors Daniel Watney, which will put you in the picture. Their key advice is make an appeal against your valuation NOW. I am sure they would welcome a call from you if you want further information but I suspect your rating consultants will equally be in the picture and advise the same.
There are slightly different systems in Scotland and Wales but the principle is the same and members there are also advised to appeal against their valuations.
BRIEFING-NOTE-COVID-19-Business-Rates-Appeals.pdf (24 downloads)
Wales – Wales Region Chairman, Richard Case and I met today with officials at the Welsh Government. Wales’ Covid numbers are ahead of the rest of the UK and it was confirmed that Wales would plough its own furrow in relation to re-opening – which might mean we get open a bit earlier there than Scotland or England. We also pressed the case for AGCs to be classed as non-essential retail and will pursue that with relevant officials when they can be identified. Richard has also secured a meeting with senior officials from Ken Skates offices, and continues to press for a meeting with the man himself over the ridiculous position of the WG to refuse grant funding and rates relief to AGCs, as well as our other asks.
Scotland – I have written under separate cover to Division 2 members in Scotland seeking additional information to bolster our case for a separate support fund for the sector which has now been put to the First Minister’s office.
Kick Start Fund – You may recall one of the government schemes announced recently was for funding to support young people into work. Up to now you had to employ 30 such people or join up with other employers. From today you can apply directly for £1500 of funding for as few as 1 person. The link to the scheme is here. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-kickstart-scheme-grant. In essence the job must not replace an existing employee or vacancy and you can claim £1500 to cover the minimum wage for 25 hours a week for 6 months. It also covers associated NI costs so should be a free resource. You do have to make anyone you take on more employable through training/job search help, etc.