Discretionary Business Development - Business Rate Relief Scheme Policy

Businesses relocating into Uttlesford district, expanding in the district or being forced to move out of their current premises can apply to be considered for discretionary rate relief.

Contents

- Scheme objectives

- Eligible businesses and level of relief

- Award levels

- Administration

- Change in circumstances

- Subsidy allowance limitations

 

Scheme objectives

  1. To support the local economy by providing incentives for occupation of empty premises and increasing the number of businesses operating within Uttlesford District Council area.
  2. To support both new businesses relocating into the district and the growth of existing local businesses.
  3. To support local businesses facing challenges to the occupancy of their existing premises.
  4. To contribute to maximising the council's financial position under the business rates retention scheme by encouraging longer term rateable value growth.

Eligible businesses and level of relief

Eligible businesses will include businesses:

  • relocating into the Uttlesford district and into premises that are either designed and built for the business or into premises that have been unoccupied for 6 months
  • already located within the Uttlesford district that are planning to expand their operations. Expansion may include enlarging existing premises by building an extension or an additional new building(s) or moving to larger premises within the district.
  • already located within Uttlesford district who are being forced to move to another premises within Uttlesford district. For example, the landlord no longer intends to lease the premises and does not extend the lease at its expiry date

Eligible businesses will also need to meet the following criteria:

  • only a Micro, Small or Medium Sized Enterprise (SME), as defined in Section 33 Part 2 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 and Sections 382 and 465 of the Companies Act 2006, can apply for rate relief under this scheme.
  • the business has been trading for a minimum of 2 years
  • the "new" property must have a rateable value of more than £12,000
  • the business owns the property or has a lease with a minimum period of 3 years before expiry, or an occupancy commitment exists [1]

Businesses in the following sectors are ineligible for this scheme as they are able to apply for rate relief under different policies:

  • registered charities and registered community amateur sports clubs - Charitable Rate Relief
  • businesses with a rateable value less than £12,000
  • qualifying businesses within small rural settlements (population of below 3,000) who are eligible for Rural Rate Relief
  • retail premises with a rateable value of £50,000 or less or businesses moving into a retail property that has been empty for a year or more who are eligible for Retail Relief Scheme

Evidence will be required as part of your application and may include lease obligations, financial accounts, employee numbers and roles. Failure to adhere to specific eligibility criteria or the provision of false information may result in expulsion from the scheme and possible retrieval of any relief received. If you are unsure about the eligibility criteria, please contact the Economic Development Team at business@uttlesford.gov.uk.
 

Award levels

Qualifying businesses can be considered for discretionary rate relief of up to 50% for the first year and up to 25% for the second year. In the case of businesses expanding and moving into larger premises, the relief would be on the difference between the rates payable on the original premises and the rates payable on the extended premises.

The council has set aside a specific amount of funding to support this scheme and once these funds are fully allocated no further applications will be accepted unless additional funding becomes available.
 

Administration

The Economic Development Team will determine applications for relief, using the criteria set out in this document.

Applicants need to submit a completed application form and provide the required evidence. The council shall have the right to request any additional information it considers necessary to determine an application.

The council will have discretion to backdate awards of relief to the beginning of the current billing period.

A business' profitability will not ordinarily be a relevant factor for determining eligibility

The over-riding consideration in the determination of any application is that the granting of relief must be judged to be in the wider interests of the Uttlesford community and its residents.

Appeals against unsuccessful applications for relief will be determined by the Section 151 Officer, whose decision shall be final. There is no further right of appeal.

The granting of discretionary relief will be on a two year basis to ensure that the scheme reflects the changing needs and circumstances of the district.

The Director of Finance and Corporate Services is authorised to make technical scheme amendments to the criteria
 

Change in circumstances

It is your responsibility as the business ratepayer to notify the council of any change in circumstance including the following:

  • taking up occupation of a property that you did not occupy at the time of making the application for relief
  • an increase or decrease in the rateable value of a property occupied by you the ratepayer
  • an increase in the rateable value of a property occupied by you, the ratepayer, in an area other than the area of the local authority which granted the relief

You must notify the council, in writing, of these changes within four weeks of the day after the change happened and your eligibility will be reassessed. If you are still eligible, you will be entitled to the relief again with effect from the day that you notify the local authority.

Failure to notify the authority within this time frame will mean that you cease to be entitled to the relief with effect from the day that the change happened.

If you take up occupation of an additional property you must make a fresh application for relief.

If the rateable value of the property falls below the £12,000 threshold, the relief will cease on the day the decision to reduce the rateable value was made.

Subsidy allowance limitations

The EU State Aid rules no longer apply and from 4 March 2021 new subsidy allowances were established for the COVID-19 business grant schemes. Payments received by the applicant from any of the business grant schemes administered by local authorities or anything similar from the government, for all business properties they are responsible for, counts as Subsidy Allowance.

There are three subsidy allowances:

a. Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance.

This allowance is £335,000 over three fiscal year periods at 3 March 2021

b. COVID-19 Business Grant Allowance.

Where the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance has been reached, grants may be paid in compliance with the principles set out in Article 3.4 of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. For the purpose of this scheme, this allowance is £1,600,000 per business and includes grants previously received under the COVID-19 business grant schemes. This may be combined with the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance to equal £1,935,000. The COVID-19 Business Grant Special Allowance. (Grants provided in excess of the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance may not be granted to applicants that were defined as an 'undertaking in difficulty').

c.  The Special Allowance

Where an applicant has reached its limit under the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance and the COVID-19 Business Grant Allowance, it may be able to access a further allowance of funding under these scheme rules of up to £9,000,000 for business, provided the following conditions are met:

  • the Special Allowance covers only the applicants uncovered fixed costs incurred during the period 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2022. Uncovered fixed costs means fixed costs not otherwise covered by profit, insurance, or other subsidies.
  • applicants can demonstrate a decline in turnover from audited or official accounts of 30% compared to 2019.
  • the Grant payment must not exceed 70% of the applicant's uncovered fixed costs (except where you have less than 50 employees and less than £9m annual turnover), where the grant payment must not exceed 90% of the uncovered fixed costs.
  • grants under this scheme shall not be cumulated with other subsidies for the same costs.
  • evidence is provided to demonstrate eligibility.

Please contact the council's Economic Development Team at business@uttlesford.gov.uk if you have any questions that have not been addressed.

 


[1] In the event of the business vacating the premises within the first three years, the council reserves the right to clawback the rate relief granted