Andrew Hulbert, Director of Business Rates, on the special measures being put in place by the Government as businesses struggle to cope with the coronavirus crisis

None of us could have foreseen the confusing, concerning and often frightening circumstances the UK finds itself in today. The past four weeks has seen the coronavirus become the sole topic of conversation, leaving everyone worried about their loved ones, their finances, their jobs, and for many, their businesses.

The Government continues to adapt to the ever-changing situation, and with many preparing for an imposed lockdown like those operating in Spain and Italy, ministers are under huge pressure to provide extraordinary support to those businesses set to be hit hardest.

A key part of this is a 12-month business rates holiday to retailers, leisure and hospitality businesses across England.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £20 billion of business rates support and grant funding to help the most-affected firms manage their cashflow through this period yesterday.

In addition to the one-year 100 per cent business rates holiday for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, the Chancellor also pledged an increase in grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000, and further £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises within the rateable value bracket of over £15,000 and below £51,000.

Having advised the public to avoid pubs and restaurants to minimise the spread of the Covid-19 infection, the Government has made a further effort to support those businesses hit hard by the guidance by relaxing the planning regulations to allow them to provide take-away services without a planning application; a measure which aims to both bolster the food industry and provide meals for those in self-isolation.

New guidance is being implemented daily as the Government responds to the crisis.