Leeds businesses urged to claim share of £24m Covid relief cash before September deadline

Businesses in Leeds are being urged to take advantage of a rates relief fund that has already paid out cash totalling £5.5m to firms based in Leeds or with operations in the city. With millions still available to be claimed by eligible businesses in Leeds, and with just weeks before the scheme closes at the end of September, the city council is urging finance professionals and business leaders to make online applications to ensure they benefit from the cash refunds.

The Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund has already made 278 individual refund payments of up to £221,000 against rates liabilities to firms that were impacted by falling profits during the pandemic, with the average refund for applications topping £19,500.

“Any business that pays rates in Leeds and suffered a significant reduction in revenue during the pandemic should be considering making an application. Already, more than 200 businesses have shared over £5m in refunds just by taking a few minutes to look at the criteria and complete the online application,” said Robert Henderson, economic development programme leader at Leeds City Council.

“Many businesses with premises in Leeds saw a fall in revenue or losses associated with the pandemic through no fault of their own, and this funding is intended to provide these firms with a boost to help them recover from the impact faster.

“Unlike many of the other government support programmes, the Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund is open to most business sectors, from logistics and warehousing to manufacturing and professional services, and the awards are calculated according to their 2021/22  rates bill so big rate payers can claim significant six-figure sums if they act quickly,” he added.

Firms that pay business rates to Leeds City Council and can demonstrate a significant loss of revenue in the 21/22 accounting period, and who have not previously received Covid-19 related rates relief are eligible to apply.  Successful applications have been made from many sectors including manufacturing, transport, logistics and warehousing, legal, accounting and other professional services, marketing, IT and recruitment businesses and usually only businesses that have already received extended retail relief are excluded.

Refunds and credits are calculated based on the company’s business rates liability and the scale of lost revenues. Businesses based outside the city that have a rates liability for offices, factories, warehouses or other business premises in Leeds are also eligible.

Jukebox manufacturer Sound Leisure recently received a rates refund of £68,000 through the scheme.  “As a manufacturing business we didn’t meet the criteria to qualify for many of the earlier relief schemes, despite having a large factory, warehouse and showroom that were closed for long periods of 2020, when we saw a big drop in sales,” said Sound Leisure managing director Chris Black. “However this additional scheme was intended for businesses like ours that didn’t benefit from the various other grants, and the process took myself and the accounts team about an hour in total to complete. The rebate we have benefited from has given us a real boost to cash flow and will enable us to make some investments as we rebuild revenues to pre-pandemic levels again,” he added.

“The average refund to date is just short of £20,000 and when the deadline expires at the end of September, there will be no way to access the funds, so we’re urging business leaders and finance professionals to visit the website now to make sure they don’t miss the chance to benefit from these significant cash payments. One large rate payer qualified for a refund of over £200,000 in July, and that’s cash that they can now use in any way they choose,” added Mr Henderson.

Details of the scheme, detailed criteria and a link to the secure application can be found on the Leeds City Council website at https://forms.leeds.gov.uk/CovidAdditionalReliefFund/.

Initial applications take just a few minutes to complete and eligible companies need only provide a handful of background documents to secure the payments if successful.