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Your questions: Are wholesale agencies eligible for rates relief?

Fashion wholesale agencies and distributors across the UK have asked Drapers whether they are eligible to access any Covid-19 business rates relief and grant schemes. Find out the answer here. 

Grants of up to £25,000 are available for retail, leisure and hospitality premises with a rateable value below £51,000. All retailers have also been granted a 12-month business rates holiday. Businesses have to apply to their local authority for the funds.

There are also £10,000 cash grants for the UK’s smallest businesses, for those with a rateable value between £12,000 and £15,000, which is available from local authorities. However, most wholesale agencies and distributors fall above this threshold, they have told Drapers. 

Wholesale agencies and distributors are not eligible for any coronavirus business rates funding because they do not fall within the “retail” category. 

One agency owner, who asked the London council to which it pays business rates on its closed premises, was told in an email: “Unfortunately the business is not eligible for the [£25,000] government grant [or 12-month rates relief] as it is “wholesale”. The grant is only eligible to businesses to having visiting members of the public.” 

The government has prioritised retail stores because of the high property costs involved, Drapers understands.

The business rates relief provides support to eligible properties in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. Businesses in these sectors are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic more than others because they are reliant on footfall and there are high fixed costs associated with occupying high street properties.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s guidance includes definitions of properties that will benefit from the relief and does not extend relief to properties that are not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public. The guidance is available online here

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