Over the last few weeks there has been rapid-fire from Government in terms of business rates relief and business support grants as it has reacted to the Covid-19 crisis.
The help available is very welcome but quite difficult to understand. To help businesses navigate the various reliefs and schemes available Dunlop Heywood has produced a visual guide to help businesses choose the right option for them. You can download it here: Rates Relief & Grants Fact Sheet (England & Wales)
Or the Scottish version here DH – COVID-19 Fact Sheet (Scotland)
The Valuation Office Agency has also released an update this week relating to its own Covid-19 operations and the effect on its work and business rate outputs over the next few weeks, possibly months. It stated that the majority of its employees are equipped to work from home and are doing so to avoid unnecessary travel and social contact, but warned “it may take longer than usual to respond to customers.”
If you need to contact the VOA directly, its operations are not currently able to offer telephone support or accept hard copy post. Any contact should be via the online Contact Form. There are also links available on the website for self-help guidance. The VOA goes on to say that it will “provide a range of reasonable adjustments to customers where they are required” but isn’t specific about what those might be. Again, businesses are directed to the contact form.
Not surprisingly face-to-face appointments and property inspections have been paused as the VOA concentrates on gathering information remotely. They are also unable to accommodate requests to view hard copy rental information they hold, such as Rent and Lease Details, Forms of Return and proposal forms.
With regards to penalties, the VOA has announced it is cancelling outstanding penalties with regards to non-compliance with requests for rent, lease or ownership details. For hardship cases, it says it is being “as flexible as we can with customers when we require information.”