On Monday evening, central government issued local authorities with new guidance to unlock grant payments for closed business, following the earlier news that there will be no opening of the non-essential retail sector or outdoor hospitality, until at least April 12th.
Businesses will now be paid for a 44 day period from February 15 to March 3, one of the following three amounts, as payment remittance slips are issued later this week.
Rateable Value below £15,000 £ 2,096
Rateable Value £15,000 - £51,000 £ 3,143
Rateable Value £ 51,000 and above £ 4,714
It is expected that pending payments from the Additional Restrictions Grant will now be released too.
Local Authorities had paused the six weekly recurring payments due for the period from February 15 - March 31, for both the LRSG Closed and the Additional Restrictions Grant, until they had clarity on the provisional date for the opening of non- essential retail, which is is now pencilled in for April 12
Councils feared that had they pushed ahead with another second six week payment due on February 15, and the high street then re-opened ahead of March 31, there would have been the administrative and P.R. nightmare of having to to claim money back from many struggling businesses in their local area.
All rateable businesses forced to close under the national lockdown in England were eligible to receive two, lump sum, grant payments in January, with a third payment then due from mid-February for the period to the reopening of non-essential retail. In aggregate that added up to between £8,000 and £18,000 each of guaranteed support, if the national lockdown extended to March 31.
The automatic distribution of a one-off Closed Business Lockdown Payment of £4,000, £6,000 or £9,000, came alongside an upfront and recurring payment of the Local Restrictions Support Grant Closed Addendum payment of £2,000, £3,000 or £4,500. Those amounts were based on a six week closure period from January 4 to February 15.
Those businesses that were already active on the Local Authority database, from any successful LRSGCA applications made during the November lockdown should all now have automatically have received their payments. Businesses automatically received both elements together in January, with a pro-rata payment for the days between December 31 and January, if they were closed by Tier 4 restrictions ahead of the national lockdown.
A closure date of March 31 currently applies to all LRSG Closed Addendum applications nationally, made for the period beginning 5 January 2021 to February 15.
For the 44 day payment period to March 31 from February 16 the closure date is May 31st.
The grants are taxable and the LRSG Closed is contingent on having a business rate listing, and being forced to close by law
HOW MUCH WILL YOU GET?
RATEABLE VALUE CBLP LRSG CA TOTAL
Less than £15,000 £4,000 £2,000 £ 6,000
£15,000 - £51,000 £6,000 £3,000 £ 9,000
Above £51,000 £9,000 £4,500 £13,500
Businesses that are eligible are those that have been mandated to close by Government and include non-essential retail, leisure, personal care, sports facilities and hospitality businesses.
Hospitality, Leisure and Accommodation businesses that had to close under local tier restrictions, before the 6th January and are already in receipt of a recurring Local Restrictions Support Grant Closed Addendum (LRSGCA) payment, will now automatically receive a six week upfront payment for the period to February 15, rather than the previous fortnightly payment and this will be automatically paid alongside a Closed Business Lockdown Payment, a one-off grant of £4,000, £6,000, or £9,000 as soon as possible.
Non-essential retail businesses, personal care business and others, who were closed under law and successfully applied for a grant in the November national lockdown, but then re-opened before Christmas and saw those grants cease, will now also be automatically paid a six week block payment for the period January 5th to February 15th. This will be paid along with the relevant lump sum payment of CBLP, according to their business rates listing.
I understand certain local councils may now consider simply posting an enquiry form for any other eligible, rateable business that is not already on their database from the November lockdown grants and which was forced to close from January 5.
This will negate the need to start a full additional application process.
NON-RATES LISTED BUSINESSES OR THOSE STILL OPEN
Whilst the support is consistent for those business forced to close, for those who aren't the person listed as the ratepayer on their premises, those who don't have a rates listing, or those who fall outside of the sectors told to close, but who have seen their trade fall off a cliff, the proposed road to any support at all is far less certain.
For all those non-rateable businesses, or those still open but seeing a severe drop in demand, there will be a separate application process under the Additional Restrictions Grant.
Each council has been given the opportunity to make it's own decision on eligibility priorities locally, but this along with the rush to pay the businesses already on the LRSGCA database means they must define, document and post their own policy and it's unlikely those applications will go live before February.
The exception to this is if the Local Authority chooses to simply replicate the policy for the previous Additional Restrictions Grant in November and December last year, which under government guidance limited applicants to those supplying the Hospitality, Leisure and Accommodation sectors, or non-rateable businesses in those sectors who had seen a severe drop in demand.
However, that policy ruled out home-based businesses, applicants suffering in other sectors and eligibility was determined by fixed business costs, rather than those that had suffered the greatest overall % loss of net income.
One change being considered could see larger businesses, now compensated with substantially larger, discretionary amounts that more accurately reflect their ongoing costs.
In November and December they were pegged under government guidance to the maximum equivalent payout on the LRSG Open of £2,100 per month.
That eligibility criteria for the A.R.G. when defined and the applications forms needed will appear on the relevant pages below.