Angus Brewer Business & Tax Consultant

Amid tougher measures advising people to avoid many hospitality businesses due to the coronavirus outbreak, chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled new support aimed at minimising the impact on companies.

On Monday 16th March, prime minister Boris Johnson said people should now not visit pubs, clubs, cinemas, restaurants and theatres to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak responded in his coronavirus update with Boris Johnson on Tuesday 17th March. 
He said the government will be bold in its support for the economy and is making “interventions in the economy on a scale unimaginable only a few weeks ago”.

Business rates reliefTackling the impact on the retail and hospitality sector, he said businesses of all sizes will pay no business rates for 12 months.  To help High Street businesses in England, the government announced that thousands of companies will pay no business rates in 2020-21.

  • The business rates retail discount for companies with a rateable value below £51,000 will be increased to 100% for one year and expanded to the leisure and hospitality sectors.
  • If your business occupies a property in the retail sector with a rateable value of £51,000 or more, or if your business occupies a property in the leisure or hospitality sectors you may also be eligible for the 100% discount on your business rates bill. 
  • The planned rates discount for pubs will rise from £1,000 to £5,000.

For those looking to claim the relief, the government says:

  • Businesses that received the retail discount in 2019-20 will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.
  • Those businesses eligible for the newly expanded retail discount and/or the new pubs discount may need to apply to their local authority to receive the discount.
  • Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs should be directed to the relevant local authority.
  • Government guidance for local authorities on the application of the expanded retail discount has now been published here

Grant made availableA cash grant of up to £25,000 will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises.
Businesses with an insurance policy that includes pandemics are covered by the government’s position on advising people to avoid pubs, clubs and restaurants, the chancellor claimed. But smaller businesses that don’t have insurance and those with a rateable value above £15,000 and below £51,000 can access a £25,000 grant.

If you have a property with a rateable value of less than £15,000 then you will be entitled to a grant of £10,000, whether or not you are entitled to small business rate relief or rural rate relief. If you have a property with a rateable value of between £14,999 and £51,000 then you will be entitled to a cash grant of £25,000.

Other areas of the UK

Business rates in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are decided by the devolved administrations.


The Scottish government has announced the following:

  • A 75% business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 from 1 April 2020
  • 1.6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland
  • A fixed rates relief of up to £5,000 for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 from 1 April 2020 

The Welsh Government has announced:

  • Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will receive 100% non-domestic rates relief
  • Pubs with a rateable value of between £51,000 and £100,000 will receive a £5,000 reduction on their bill
Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Executive has announced:

  • All businesses will pay zero business rates for the next three months
  • The issuing of rates bill will be deferred from April until June to help businesses with short-term cash flow

Further details are expected in due course on these measures.  Any questions about the reliefs should be directed to your local authority. 

Last updated: 19/03/2020
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