Government begins transferring grants to businesses; rates exemption takes effect

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Government today confirmed that it has started paying grants of up to £25,000 into bank accounts of high street businesses as part of its £22 billion COVID-19 package.

The business rates exemption announced in the Budget will also take effect today (1 April). Eligible firms, including those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, need not to pay business rates for the next 12 months.

The measure is expected to save firms in England £11 billion.

The smallest businesses in these sectors are also beginning to receive one off grants of either £10,000 or £25,000, with an early payment of £3.4 billion being made to local authorities.

Westminster City Council paid grants to 300 businesses on Monday night.

“High street businesses are at the core of what keeps our economy thriving,” Chancellor Rishi Sunak said. “That is why we are taking the unprecedented step to provide businesses with the vital cash they need to ensure their survival during this difficult time, with 300 businesses having already received money in their accounts.”

Scottish and Welsh administrations have also declared total rates exemption for businesses with rateable value below £51,000 for 2020-21, as in England. Northern Ireland has announced a three-month business rates holiday at 100 percent relief.

“This intervention combined with the quick delivery of grants for those small businesses eligible for the expanded Retail Discount and the 700,000 small businesses in receipt of small business rates relief and rural rate relief, could be the difference between surviving this crisis or folding,” commented Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses.