Financial support for businesses
COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF)
What is the COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF)?
The COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF) aims to support businesses affected by the pandemic, but that are ineligible for existing support linked to Business Rates.
How is CARF different to previous COVID-19 related rate relief schemes?
The government has funded schemes to provide rate relief for eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, and for Nurseries.
The government has now allocated funding for a discretionary local rate relief scheme to support businesses across Cheshire West and Chester Borough that did not receive rate relief in 2021/22 under the previous relief schemes.
Which businesses are eligible?
The eligibility criteria is:
- The Business must have been adversely affected by COVID-19
- The business must have been in occupation of their premises and trading or providing a service during the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2022
- Businesses must be liable to pay Business Rates between the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2022
Which businesses are not eligible?
The council is responsible for designing discretionary relief schemes that are to operate within the borough.
However, in line with Government guidelines the Council:
- must not award relief to ratepayers who for the same period of the relief (1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022) either are or would have been eligible for the Extended Retail Discount (covering Retail, Hospitality and Leisure), the Nursery Discount or the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme (AGOSS),
- must not award relief to a hereditament for a period when it is unoccupied (other than hereditaments which have become unoccupied temporarily due to the government’s advice on COVID-19), and
- should direct their support toward ratepayers who have been adversely affected by the pandemic and have been unable to adequately adapt to that impact.
- may not grant the discount to itself or to a precepting authority (eg Town Council, Parish), in line with the legal restrictions in section 47(8A) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.
The Council has also decided to exclude the following businesses:
- Advertising Rights/Boards and Land used for Advertising
- Communication Infrastructure
- Car parking spaces and private car parks
- Land used for storage
- Utilities (Pipeline and appurtenances)
- Schools and universities
- Vets/legal services/professional services (financial services etc)
- Businesses who can claim back any business rates paid (for example: from the government, or from a landlord if the tenancy agreement specifies that rent is inclusive of rates).
- Businesses that will breach government subsidy limits if relief were to be awarded
- Businesses subject to any form of insolvency action already started or pending, including proposal to strike off
- Businesses where the property was empty or exempt or had no rates bill to pay during all of 2021-22. Businesses that were in occupation and were trading or providing a service for part of the year may be eligible in respect of those periods only
Businesses receiving 100 per cent Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) will not be eligible for support under the CARF scheme. Businesses receiving partial SBRR (those with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £15,000) will be eligible for support in respect of the liability for Business Rates not covered by SBRR.
How much rate relief will eligible businesses receive?
Under the Cheshire West and Chester scheme all eligible businesses will receive 100 per cent rate relief up to a RV of £15,000. Those eligible businesses with a RV above £15,000 will receive up to an additional 5 per cent relief of their net liability for 2021/22.
The total amount of relief that will be awarded to a business is capped at 2 per cent of the funds (£7,703,055) received by Cheshire West and Chester Council. This includes the combined RV total of businesses that have more than one assessment.Eligible businesses that have had periods of exemption or were unoccupied will not receive relief for those periods. Relief will only be awarded for those periods when the property was occupied and business/service was being conducted.
What information do I need to provide when I apply?
Please have your business details, including your Business Rates reference number, available before you start your application. You can find your reference number on your latest Business Rates bill. A business must be able to provide evidence of how it was adversely impacted by COVID-19, for example:
- Accounts showing turnover before the pandemic (2019/2020) and now.
- Bank statements showing business activity before the pandemic (2019/2020) and now
You will also be required to make the following declarations:
- That by accepting the relief, they will not breach state subsidy limits
- The business is not subject to any form of insolvency action already started or pending including proposal to strike off
- That the business understands that relief will be applied for the year 2021-2022 only. The balance of any resulting credit will be applied to any outstanding balance on your account
How do I apply?
You must apply using the online form only.
The scheme will close on 17 May 2022.
What happens after I apply?
Applications will be dealt with in chronological date order of receipt. Please note that applications without all supporting evidence will not be dealt with until after all other complete applications have been reviewed.
How will I know if my application has been successful or not?
Whether your application is successful or not, we aim to contact you with a decision within 20 working days. Where an application is successful, we will apply the rate relief to your Business Rates account and issue a revised bill.
Those that do not meet the criteria will be issued with a letter explaining why.
We would ask all businesses to continue to pay their rates in line with the bills issued until we contact you.
How will the relief be applied?
The relief will be applied for the year 2021-2022 only. The balance of any resulting credit will be applied to any outstanding balance on your account.