Eligible non-domestic ratepayers throughout Fylde will soon be able to apply for additional help with business rates through the COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF).
The fund, totalling £1.25m, is intended to support those businesses which have been affected by the pandemic, but which have been ineligible for existing support linked to business rates. This total will be split between all eligible businesses, in addition to existing discretionary business rates relief such as small business rates relief or mandatory charitable relief.
Councillor Karen Buckley, Leader of Fylde Council, said: “Over the course of the pandemic, Fylde Council have been able to distribute millions of pounds in financial support to local businesses affected by COVID-19. We are delighted to be able to provide this additional relief from payable rates to those whose businesses were impaired by Omicron restrictions but who did not meet criteria for the rates-related support schemes.”
Since the initial announcement in March 2021, councils have been waiting for further details of the fund. The legislative changes received Royal Assent on 15 December 2021, and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities published guidance on 16 December 2021 to support councils in administering the fund, to be offered in the form of relief from business rates for the period 2021/2022.
Eligible businesses are those who:
• Did not for this period receive, or be eligible for but not apply for, the Extended Retail Discount (covering Retail, Hospitality and Leisure), the Nursery Discount, or the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme (AGOSS).
• Occupied a rateable premises in the Fylde Council district area for the period.
This fund is intended to focus on those businesses adversely affected by the pandemic. As such, certain classes of business are excluded on the basis that they are deemed not to have been adversely affected by the pandemic:
• Education premises (schools/colleges/higher education institutions)
• Government properties, legislative bodies and the armed forces
• Utilities and communications infrastructure, including telephone masts
• Waste transfer sites
• Advertising right / station and premises
• Network supplying utilities and associated properties
• Petrol stations
Eligible businesses will be contacted directly from this week onwards with details of action required to claim the relief. The deadline for applications is 9:00am on 20 March 2022. Check our website for more information: COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF) (fylde.gov.uk)
The CARF scheme is subject to the subsidies chapter within the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).
However, for CARF there is an exemption for subsidies under the value of approximately £2,243,000 per economic actor (broadly speaking, for example, a holding company and its subsidiaries). This allowance comprises 325,000 Special Drawing Rights (at current exchange rates about £343,000) for Small Amounts of Financial Assistance and a further £1,900,000 for COVID-19 related subsidy.
To be awarded CARF you must not have claimed over the period 2019/20 to 2021/22 more than £2,243,000 from schemes that fell within the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance or COVID-19 related allowances. COVID-19 business grants you have received from local government and the 2019/20 Retail Relief should count towards this limit, but you should not count any Extended Retail Discount you have received since 1 April 2020.
For more information regarding subsidy control and how it applies to the CARF scheme, please see the Government website: COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF): local authority guidance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
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