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The Town Hall is closed to visitors. Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest information and advice.

Businesses and employers

Grants and Business Rates

The government has announced several measures to support businesses during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Further information on additional support measures and guidance from the government will be updated on these pages as it’s announced. 

The Valuation Office Agency can be contacted on 03000 501 501 or via email. You can also query your rateable value.

Business Grants

Businesses forced to close due to the new restrictions will be able to apply for a Local Restrictions Support Grant of up to £3,000. Other businesses affected by the lockdown, but are not legally required to close, can apply for a one-off discretionary payment.

Support for creative organisations

Arts Council England has made an emergency response fund available for businesses in the creative industry, affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Support for heritage organisations

Historic England is offering support to heritage organisations in the form of its Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund:

  • Open to third sector, and voluntary groups, heritage organisations and self-employed contractors
  • Grants of up to £25k (grants of £50k also available subject to criteria)
  • Covers (1) Emergency revenue and (2) Projects and activities
  • Will support local or national heritage organisations including privately-owned heritage attractions and heritage businesses.


Does not fund costs that are eligible for other government and/or Lottery channels of support.

Business Rates questions

Here are some answers to questions about Business Rates during the coronavirus outbreak. 

I believe I don’t have to pay Business Rates next year, should I cancel my Direct Debit?

No. We have worked to identify all the accounts which will receive 100 per cent Business Rate relief. For these cases, we will not claim Direct Debits for the current year. Leaving your Direct Debit in place at the bank should enable you to pay by this method next year (starting in April 2021) without the need to complete a new Direct Debit mandate.

What ratepayers will receive 100 per cent Rate Relief in 2020?

Ratepayers in receipt of small business rate relief, occupying a property with a Rateable Value of £12,000 or below. Also, ratepayers who qualify for retail rate discount.

Please be aware that a property must be wholly or mainly occupied for a qualifying purpose and to be accessible to visiting members of the public. The only exception to this is where a property that would have qualified under the scheme is temporarily closed due to government advice on Covid-19. Furthermore, if you have not applied for 2019 financial year, applications for this are now out of time. Please note that time limits also apply with respect to the 2020 financial year.

See information on the qualifiers and non-qualifiers.

Do State Aid Limits still apply to the retail rate discount scheme?

The government has received clearance from the European Union to bring forward an immediate change to the UK’s tax treatment of non-domestic property. This has removed the need for state aid declarations and for recipients of retail rate discount to comply with the de minimis state aid regulations for the 2020 financial year.

I run a children’s nursery and understand that the Secretary of State for Education announced a business rates holiday for non-local authority child care providers in 2020/21

We believe we have identified all qualifying children’s nurseries and have applied the relevant relief. If you think your nursery has been missed, please email us with your details.

When will I receive a revised bill confirming that you have awarded the 100 per cent relief to me?

We believe we have identified all properties that qualify for the expanded retail discount and have applied the relevant relief. If you think your property has been missed please email us with your details and explain why you qualify for the expanded retail discount. See information on the qualifiers and non-qualifiers.

Advice for struggling businesses

Since the pandemic started, my business has experienced a very significant drop in income. Is the council be doing everything it can to support my business?

The rates are a form of property tax and not based on profitability. Whilst the council is not unsympathetic to your position, it has a statutory duty to act diligently to collect the rates due in accordance with government requirements. As a local authority, we only get to retain around five per cent of the collectable rate (to pay for statutory services to the community). This is because of levies and tariffs imposed on our collection fund and we have to pay the government their share, regardless of whether we have collected it. So the council will have serious cash flow problems if the rates are not received in a timely manner.

I do not have sufficient funds to bring the account up to date. Can I defer/delay some or all of the overdue payments to a later date?

Please ensure that you have checked all the available government help schemes for loans and grants etc.

If you still can’t bring the account up-to-date, you should pay as much as you can towards the arrears and let us have your proposals for dealing with the debt. We may decide that we still need to protect the debt by seeking a Court Judgement against you but we will review your account at each stage of the recovery cycle. Generally, we would be looking for you to be making regular weekly or monthly payments towards the overall debt starting now with the aim to clear the debt before the end of the current financial year.

+ What should I do if I conclude that the business cannot meet its liabilities or that it may have to close?

You should speak to your accountant as soon as possible and/or take professional advice in order to find a way forward. Empty rates are normally payable on unoccupied properties so you will need to discuss the matter with your landlord too and keep us informed of any occupational or ownership changes as and when they occur.