Coronavirus: Check eligibility for grants and rates relief

Farmers with diversifications should check that they or their tenants are receiving business rates relief and grants under government Covid-19 support measures.

Farm businesses which were paying rates for retail, leisure and hospitality enterprises should have had their bills zeroed, according to Laurence Gould agricultural consultancy.

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Charles Baines, a consultant at Laurence Gould, explained that the government’s expanded retail discount scheme now encompassed leisure and hospitality ventures.

The relief from rate payments has been increased to 100% rather than just a proportional discount, Mr Baines added.

Eligibility includes all of those paying rates in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors – for example, caravan parks and activity centres, said Mr Baines.

The relief is administered through local authorities.

No application is required for this 100% discount, as authorities seem to have taken the initiative in zeroing such rates bills, he said.

But he advised any farmers still paying rates for retail, hospitality or leisure facilities to contact the local council to highlight their eligibility status.

Diversified farm business grants 

Likewise, diversified businesses should have been contacted over two separate grant streams of £10,000 or £25,000 available for small rural enterprises.

The £10,000 grant is payable to businesses on the local authority ratings list, but which do not pay rates because their rateable value is less than £15,000 and they receive:

  • Small business rate relief (for typical farm diversifications)
  • Rural rates relief (essential services such as village shops)
  • Expanded retail discount

“Local authorities have been quick to send out application forms to eligible businesses and my advice is, if in doubt, to apply,” Mr Baines said.

Anyone who receives one of the above reliefs should call their authority if they have not already been contacted.

However, Mr Baines explained that some may find they have not been contacted because they have never been rated.

They might wish to be cautious about contacting the local authority in this instance.

A lack of contact from the authority might also be because a farmer has not yet applied for small business rate relief or rural rates relief.

Usually, the process is simply to go onto the local authority website and complete an online form to apply for these reliefs.

Then, not only will you end up not having to pay any rates, but you will also become eligible for the grant as well, he said.

The second grant, of £25,000, is available to businesses eligible for the expanded retail discount which have a rateable value between £15,001 and £50,999.

Again, if farms or their tenants have not heard from the local authority, it is worth making a call, Mr Baines said.