The Welsh Government has announced a support package for businesses listed on the business rates register to help them through the Coronavirus crisis.
The new package includes a year-long business rates holiday for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in Wales for example shops, pubs and restaurants, gyms, performance venues and hotels. The scheme will apply to all eligible business ratepayers with a rateable value of £500,000 or less.
Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said: “This is really good news for small business struggling at this difficult time. The council is taking rapid steps to put all the measures associated with this work so businesses can start benefiting as quickly as possible.”
He said: “As much as possible wed aim to automatically award the business rates holiday to all eligible parties as soon as possible.”
Eligible business ratepayers will be sent a new bill when the award has been made showing nothing is owed for the financial year 2020/21.
Any business that the Council knows to be eligible for this relief and is due to pay its rates for the coming year by Direct Debit, will not have a claim made to its bank account in April even if the relief has not yet been applied.
Businesses with repayment agreements covering more than one year’s rates will have their instalments adjusted to reflect that there is nothing to pay for the coming year.
In addition, a one off grant of £25,000 will also be offered to businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000.
The Welsh Government package also provides a £10,000 grant to all businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less. The same ratepayer may only receive the lower grant for a maximum of two properties in each local authority’s area.
Swansea Council intends to automatically pay out these grants where it is able to identify eligibility and also has sufficient information to make the payment directly to the business’s bank account.
Although in many cases the necessary details are already held, there have been instances where business have not informed the Council that they have occupied business premises and they will therefore not receive a grant payment.
To ensure the Council has the correct details to make the necessary payments, all businesses that consider themselves eligible for the grants are asked to complete the online form that can be found on the Council’s website www.swansea.gov.uk/coronavirusbusinessgrant
The estimated amount of grant to be paid out in the Swansea area is around £60 million and so although the Council is ready to administer the payments and carry out the necessary fraud prevention measures, the total to be paid out is so high that it will be necessary for Welsh Government to provide the necessary funding before this can be done.