What Southend-on-Sea Borough Council can do
This page gives information on what Southend-on-Sea Borough Council can help businesses with during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Discretionary Business Grant
This grant is an additional fund to the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund. It is aimed at certain small businesses who were not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Fund, which have relatively high ongoing, fixed property-related costs and which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis. The government’s advice is that this grant is in addition to the initial grant funding and is for businesses that are not eligible for other central government COVID-19 related support schemes, including the Small Business Grant Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund. Please do not apply for this grant if you have already received one of the other grants. The only exception to this are businesses who are eligible for the Self-Employed Income support scheme (SEISS), who are eligible to apply for this scheme as well.
On the 13th May 2020 the Government announced that they are making additional funding available to Local Authorities by way of a Discretionary Payment Scheme to allow us to further support Small Businesses.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is now reviewing the process for determining eligible grants. This money is in addition to the Small Business Grant Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund previously announced.
By the beginning of June, we expect to have a system in place for those businesses which meet the criteria, to make an application for this financial support. Until then, we are not able to receive or process any applications and would ask businesses to refrain from contacting us, as this is putting further strain on resources that are working hard to maintain essential council services.
We will announce further details about the application process on this page in due course; in the meantime, we recommend that that businesses familiarise themselves with the draft eligibility criteria below.
Local authorities are being tasked with prioritizing the following types of businesses for grants from within this funding:
- Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces. (Examples could include units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators, which do not have their own business rates assessment).
- Regular market traders who do not have their own business rates assessment.
- Bed and breakfasts which pay Council Tax instead of business rates.
- Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief, which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.
These grants are primarily and predominantly aimed at businesses:
- with relatively high ongoing fixed proper-related costs.
- which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
- Businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000.
- with fewer than 50 employees.
- that were trading on 11 March 2020.
Small Business Grants Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund - Please see this page for more information and how to apply
A simple application form needs to be submitted for these grants. This is to capture basic business information and ensure the council meets government requirements to make the relevant payments. The council will endeavour to make payments as soon as possible after receipt of an application.
Extended Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Discount 2020/2021 and Nursery Discount 2020/2021 - Please see this page for more information and how to apply
Direct debits have also been cancelled and payment will not be requested from bank accounts for this category of business. As soon as possible accounts will be updated and Business Rate demands will issued confirming the relief has been applied to accounts with a nil liability for 2020/21.
Support for businesses that pay business rates
For those currently in receipt of 50% Retail Relief this will automatically be increased to 100% and expanded to include the leisure and hospitality sectors. This Business rates holiday has been extended to all pubs, clubs, theatres and other hospitality, leisure and retail venues irrespective of their rateable value. If you currently pay your account via direct debit this has been cancelled from 1st April 2020 onwards.
For those businesses which do have a policy that covers pandemics, the government’s action is sufficient and will allow businesses to make an insurance claim against their policy. However many of those businesses do not have insurance so for pubs, clubs, theatres and other hospitality, leisure and retail venues with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 will be able to access an additional cash grant of up to £25,000 per business.
That means every single shop, pub, theatre, music venue, restaurant - and any other business in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector – will pay no business rates whatsoever for 12 months, and if they have a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000, they can now get a cash grant as well.
Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates
The government will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to all businesses currently eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief.
Please be aware that the council has already prepared and has posted out business rates bills for 2020/21 on 13 March 2020, based on the previously announced levels of relief.
If you are not affected by these changes, your bill is correct and you should make payment as detailed on your bill.
If you are affected by these changes we will send you a new 2020/21 business rate bill as soon as possible. If you still need to contact us then please email [email protected]
Commercial Rent Collection
The council has agreed an approach to rent collection and arrears for its business tenants in light of the Covid-19 situation and the latest advice issued by the Government on 23 March 2020, the headlines of which are:
- commercial tenants unable to pay rent will be protected from eviction if they miss a payment in next 3 months. Tenants will remain liable for the rent after this period and the Government is monitoring the impact on landlords’ cash flow
- the measures encourage ongoing conversations between landlords and tenants about voluntary arrangements
- the latest measure builds on the unprecedented package of support for businesses already announced by the Government
In addition to this Government support, the council is keen to support its tenants to the extent that it can legally and practically do so and has agreed the following measures in line with the Government’s guidance:
- The Council will continue to invoice in line with the contractual arrangements (leases and licences etc) so that businesses remain aware of their rent liability. If tenants are unable to pay their rent because of Coronavirus then the council will pause all rent enforcement measures and will not pursue evictions for at least the next 3 months (until the end of June 2020) and then the situation will then be reviewed.
- For businesses required to close as a result of the Government’s Further businesses and premises to close: guidance updated on 25 March 2020, the council will respond to any requests from its business tenants for rent payment to be deferred, and for payment plans to be put in place initially for 3 months’ rent (until the end of June 2020) and again, this will also be kept under review.
BID (Business Improvement District) levy payments
In light of the current COVID19 crisis, the council is enabling a three-month deferral period for Business Improvement District (BID) levy payments; during which time the council will not pursue or enforce non-payment of the BID levy. The BID levy can still be paid in the normal way by businesses that wish to. BID levy payers will receive written notification of this within the coming weeks.
Page last updated: 28/05/2020