About the scheme

 

Do I need to apply for the grant?

Eligible businesses don’t need to apply for the grant, but if LPS does not hold your bank details for the purposes of paying rates then you need to fill in an online form to register for the scheme and provide your bank details for payment.
For rental properties, the scheme is being designed to benefit the small businesses and not the landlord or managing agent who is responsible for paying the rates. For this reason, no grant payments are being automatically issued to landlords or managing agents of properties with a rateable value of £1,590 or less. Landlords, managing agents and small businesses in this situation should not use the Small Business Grant Support online form to register for the scheme, but should wait until a new online form for rental properties is made available in the coming days.

 

On what basis did you decide who to pay the grant out to first?

Payments have been made first in relation to the £10,000 grant as this will benefit more businesses in NI, compared to the £25,000 grant. Payments of the £10,000 grant were issued first to businesses whose bank account details were held by LPS for the purposes of paying business rates. The remaining payments will be sent as soon as possible after bank account details are provided through the online form.

 

Why are other sectors not eligible for the cash grants – small businesses who aren’t entitled to SBRR, leisure sector, community and voluntary sector (etc)? Is there an appeal process?

These businesses are not currently eligible to receive the £10,000 small business support grant.  If this changes, any new information will be updated on NI Business Info website.

 

Are Industrial derated properties eligible for the cash grant?

Industrial Derated businesses are currently not eligible for the cash grant scheme.

The NI Executive is putting a range of support measures in place to support businesses during this challenging time. You can find further details about these measures at: https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/covid-19-managing-business-finance-tax-rates-and-insurance

There is no appeal process if you are not eligible for the grant scheme. Specific policy queries can be directed by email to: dfemail@economy-ni.gov.uk

 

What about the £25,000 grant for business ratepayers in the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors?

The NI Executive is providing a one-off grant of £25,000 to ratepayers in the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors who pay rates on a property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000. Further details about how to access this grant will be announced as soon as this is possible.

 

I never received a rate bill for my property (for example because I recently moved into a property). What should I do?

Eligibility for the £10,000 Small Business Support Grant will be linked to the business who occupied the property on the 15th March 2020.

If you have not yet received your rate bill but you occupied the property on 15th March 2020, you will still be able to access the grant if you are eligible.

As you don’t yet have rate account details, you will not be able to use the online form to register for the scheme and provide your bank details for payment.

To get your business rate account set up, you should email rating@lpsni.gov.uk - even if you have contacted LPS about this previously.  In your email please provide details of the property address, the occupier name and contact details and the date that you occupied the property. Someone will contact you to confirm your rate account details and this will allow you to register for the grant scheme. Please note that you may be asked to provide proof of occupation.

 

I pay rent including rates to a landlord/managing agent and my business isn’t registered on the rate account. Can I still access the grant?

For rental properties, the scheme is being designed to benefit the small businesses and not the landlord or managing agent who is responsible for paying the rates. For this reason, no grant payments are being automatically issued to landlords or managing agents of properties with a rateable value of £1,590 or less. Landlords, managing agents and small businesses in this situation should not use the Small Business Grant Support online form to register for the scheme, but should wait until a new online form for rental properties is made available in the coming days.

 

I don’t have premises but I am still a business with significant overheads – e.g operating from home or from a vehicle. Can I get this grant?

You would not be eligible for this grant, but there is other support available for the self-employed. Find further information here https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-support-and-advice-self-employed

 

What do you mean by State Aid?

State aid is any advantage granted by public authorities through state resources on a selective basis to any organisations that could potentially distort competition and trade in the European Union. 

Find further information here https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/articles/introduction-state-aid

The grant is State aid that complies with the European Commission’s Temporary Framework to support the economy in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak and is conditional on eligible businesses confirming they were not in difficulty on 31.12.19 (as defined in Article 2 (18) of the Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014)

 

Can I receive my payment by cheque?

To avoid unnecessary social contact payments are being made directly into bank accounts.  Issuing payment by cheque would require people to go to banks to make lodgements, as well as slowing down the payment process for everyone.  Therefore, cheques will not be issued unless absolutely necessary.

 

I pay my business and domestic rates on one single bill. Will I still be eligible to the grant?

As long as you are eligible for the non-domestic part of your bill, you will still receive the grant even if your business rates are shown on the same bill as your domestic rates.

 

ABOUT THE FIRST BATCH OF AUTOMATIC PAYMENTS

 

Will I be receiving the £10,000 grant payment in my account early next week (week commencing 30th March)?

Around 7,000 eligible businesses who are currently in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief will receive their grant payment next week, with payments beginning 31st March if not before. At the moment, we cannot confirm that you will definitely receive the grant payment but you can expect the payment in your bank account early next week if all of the following apply:

You already pay your business rates by Direct Debit and your bank details are already held by Land & Property Services. (Note that if details of more than one bank account were held by LPS, for example where there are multiple business rate accounts using different bank accounts, LPS has not made an assumption on which bank account to use. In this case you need to use the online form to provide your bank details)

You are a business that is currently receiving Small Business Rate Relief and you don’t fall into one of the exclusions that have been applied – properties that are vacant, MLA Constituency offices and properties that are not deemed to be businesses such as sports halls and car parking spaces.

You are not a landlord or managing agent who pays business rates in relation to rental properties.

If all of this applies, you should check your bank account for the incoming grant payment early next week. You will also receive a confirmation of your payment by email or post.

 

How do I know if I am currently in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) on my rate bill?

SBRR is automatically applied to your rate bill based on the rateable value of your property, so you won’t have applied for SBRR. You can check your business rates bill - on the second page of the bill, if you are in receipt of SBRR it will be listed under the Help with Rates section.

If you can’t check your rate bill, you can look at the details of the scheme to see whether you fit the criteria. Most properties with a rateable value below £1,590 will be in receipt of SBRR, though some exclusions apply. https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/small-business-rate-relief

 

How can I check what bank account details are already held by LPS in relation to business rates? I can’t remember if I paid by Direct Debit or which bank account I used for payment.

You can check this by calling the helpline but the impact of COVID-19 means that phone lines will be very busy and you may need to wait in a queue to speak to an operator.

If possible, you should check your online banking to see if LPS has previously collected Direct Debit payments for business rates. This may be shown in your list of payees or on your online statements.

Otherwise it would be best to wait until early next week to check your bank account for the incoming grant payment.

 If you think you are eligible for this grant and you have not received the grant payment by 1st April 2020, you should use the online form to register for the scheme and provide your bank account details. After your details have been checked, your grant payment will be issued to your bank account as soon as possible.

 

What if I pay rates by cheque or Quickpay card?

If you do not pay your rates by Direct Debit, for example paying by cheque, Quickpay card or bank transfer, LPS will not hold you bank details. If you think you are eligible for this grant, you should use the online form to register for the scheme and provide your bank account details. After your details have been checked, your grant payment will be issued to your bank account as soon as possible.

 

If I haven’t previously paid by business rates by Direct Debit, do I need to set up a Direct Debit for rates now to get my grant?

No, if you haven’t already set up your Direct Debit for rates you don’t have to do this for the purposes of this grant scheme.

If you think you are eligible for this grant and you have not received the grant payment by 1st April 2020, you should use the online form to register for the scheme and provide your bank account details. After your details have been checked, your grant payment will be issued to your bank account as soon as possible.

 

Does the business need to provide any proof to receive the grant?

Eligibility for the scheme is generally based on information that is already held about the property in relation to business rates, so no further proof is required to receive the grant. Eligibility for the grant will be checked before the payment is issued, so if any further details are required you will be contacted directly about this.

 

ABOUT USING THE ONLINE FORM TO REGISTER AND PROVIDE BANK DETAILS

 

What details will I need to upload to the online form and how long will this take?

This is a short online form asking for Ratepayer ID, Occupancy ID, your bank or building society sort code and account number and your email address.

 

I don’t have my Ratepayer ID or Occupancy ID. Where can I find this?

First of all, you only need to complete the online form if LPS does not already have your bank details for the purposes of paying business rates. If you think you are eligible for this grant and you already pay business rates by Direct Debit, you should wait and check your bank account early next week to see if you have already received the grant payment.

If you have not previously paid business rates by Direct Debit or if you think you are eligible for the grant and you have not received payment by 1st April 2020, you will need to find out your rate account details in order to complete the online form to register for the scheme and provide your bank account details.

You can find your Ratepayer ID and Occupancy ID at the top right hand corner of your rate bill. Alternatively, these may also be found on other letters and correspondence that you receive from Land & Property Services (LPS) in relation to your business rates.

If you don’t have any rate bills or correspondence from LPS with these details, you will have to contact the helpline to request your rate account details. Because of the impact of COVID-19, bear in mind that phone lines will be very busy and you may need to wait in a queue to speak to an operator. You will asked to answer a number of security questions about your rate account and rate payment history before your rate account details can be released.

 

The online form says that my Ratepayer or Occupancy ID should be 8 digits, but mine is only 6 digits. What should I do?

Sometimes letters and correspondence from LPS will display your Ratepayer ID or Occupancy ID with less than 8 digits because the zeros at the start of the ID are not displayed. For example, if your letter refers to your Ratepayer ID as 12345 you should use zeros at the beginning of your ID to bring this up to 8 digits – for example 00012345.

 

I made an error when I submitted the online form, and when I tried to resubmit the form I wasn’t able to. What should I do?

The online form has been designed to accept one submission for each Ratepayer ID. You will need to contact the helpline to provide your updated details. Because of the impact of COVID-19, bear in mind that phone lines will be very busy and you may need to wait in a queue to speak to an operator.